House: The Speaker Election for the 113th House

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the House’s vote on the Speaker of the 113th House. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) won, receiving 220 votes and overcoming concerns about a mutiny among conservative House Republicans. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) received 192 votes. 9 House Republicans defected and voted for candidates other than Rep. Boehner, and 5 House Democrats broke from their party and voted for candidates other than Rep. Pelosi. One Republican (Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX)) voted Present.

Because new members of the 113th House have only voted on 5 measures, we can only plot legislators who are returning from the 112th House. Nonetheless, the plot reveals some ideological patterns to the vote. Among House Democrats, opposition to Pelosi was clustered among moderate “Blue Dog” Democrats like Reps. John Barrow (D-GA) and Jim Matheson (D-UT).

Conversely, opposition to Boehner was strongest not among the most conservative House Republicans, but those with low second dimension scores. As with the House’s vote on the “fiscal cliff” deal two days ago, the second dimension appears to be picking up an establishment vs. anti-establishment cleavage. It is too early to tell if this divide will persist in the 113th House, although the voting patterns in the Speaker election suggest it may.

In the plot below we color the legislator tokens red if they are Republicans who voted for Boehner, blue if they are Democrats who voted for Pelosi, and the color opposite their party if they voted against their party’s consensus choice. We isolate only the defectors in the right panel.

Click image to enlarge

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