Although there was much hand-wringing about the direction of the Republican Party after the 2012 election, in this era of polarization, many would argue “moderate House Republican” is an oxymoron. But in fact there are moderates in two respects. First, there are House Republicans who are “ideologically” moderate in the sense that they represent relatively moderate districts. There are 28 members representing districts where Obama received more than 48 percent of the vote in 2012, 18 where Obama received more than 49 percent, and 13 where Obama received more than 50 percent of the vote. All of these members are badly out of line with their district sentiment if they pursue anything but a moderate agenda, and one would think they risk losing their seat to a Democrat if they move too far to the right. Second, there are “process” moderates. These are Republicans of various ideological persuasions who understand that American institutions are designed to require compromise between three branches of government. In early October, 22 such House Republicans committed publicly to supporting a “clean resolution” – that is, to allowing an up-or-down vote on whether to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling . Of these, eight were in rather safe Republican seats (where Obama received less than 46 percent of the vote) and one other was in a district where the president received less than 48 percent of the vote. So no matter how one counts, there were plenty of Republicans with which the Democrats should have been able to work. But these Republicans never bucked Speaker Boehner or the majority caucus. Instead, they let the House wreak havoc, and they are the ones who truly deserve the blame, because they could have marshaled the votes for a sensible solution but did not.
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