John Boehner’s tenure as speaker of the House, which will end with his resignation next month, is striking because of a seeming contradiction. By statistical measures, it featured an extraordinary degree of party unity among Republicans in the House. At almost no point in history have such a large majority of Republicans voted together so often, especially when they stood in opposition to Democrats.
And yet, Boehner was brought down by division within the Republican ranks: His decision to resign was motivated by a group of dissident, highly conservative Republicans, the Freedom Caucus, who had threatened a no-confidence vote in his speakership. Meanwhile, Republicans have had trouble reaching consensus in many other respects during Boehner’s years as speaker: most notably, in choosing a candidate in the current presidential race.
So are Republicans a party united or divided? To a historic degree they are both. They are united against Democrats and deeply divided as a group.