Senior Senate Republicans believe the high-profile vote expected Tuesday — followed by conservative backlash over the GOP’s failure to fulfill its seven-year campaign pledge — might provoke enough heat from the base to bring senators back to the negotiating table.

It seems like a long shot. But McConnell may be playing the long game — making his members walk the plank not as an act of desperation but as part of a strategy that just might work. He’s used it before to get what he wants.

If the vote fails, “I don’t think it’s over,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate leadership. “We’re going to need a little longer runway to get to 50 votes on something.“