Not even Paul Ryan can bridge the House GOP's divisions

Most House Republicans aren’t simply “establishment” backers or “tea party” rebels. In fact, the plurality in the middle belongs to what The New York Times has dubbed the “Vote No, Hope Yes” caucus. These Republicans vote strategically with the leadership just enough of the time to jockey for plum committee assignments, but they voted against Boehner enough to shield themselves from a tea party primary back home.

However, Ryan has been a rare “Dependable,” just like Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who folded his speaker bid after the House Freedom Caucus opposed him. He’s one of only 51 members (21 percent of the conference) who have voted with leadership all five times, including on the continuing resolution last month that kept the government open, despite the conservative push to shut it down over federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The 36 “Rebels” and “Agitators,” who overlap almost perfectly with the membership of the House Freedom Caucus, hold a fundamentally different perspective: 72 percent were elected after President George W. Bush left office, and most won their primaries by running against not only President Obama, but also the Bush-era bailouts and the GOP “status quo” of tax and spend. They almost all hail from safe GOP seats.