Boehner faces two problems in the new Congress: His GOP majority is smaller than it was last year because of the loss of nine seats in November. And it’s also more conservative, since many of the members who left were moderates.

Of 233 Republicans in the new House, only 15 — fewer than 7% — come from districts that Obama carried in the presidential election, according to statistician David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. A far greater number come from districts Mitt Romney won handily, which means they represent a very different country from the one that reelected Obama. The political pressure most House Republicans face from their voters isn’t to compromise with Democrats; it’s to resist.

That could bode ill for the coming fight over the debt ceiling.

For one thing, Republicans are in even less of a mood for compromise because they think they have more leverage this time. Instead of defending the wealthy against tax hikes, they’ll be championing cuts in federal spending, a more popular idea (at least in the abstract).

“I hope the speaker understands that he really can’t compromise that way again,” Campbell said. “He has to take a harder line…. But we’re going on faith. There have been no commitments.”