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Boehner survives conservative coup, easily wins third term as Speaker

Chip Somodevilla / Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.
  1. John Boehner was reelected Speaker of the House on Tuesday afternoon, on the first day of the chamber's new session. The final tally was 216 votes for Boehner, 164 for Nancy Pelosi, and 28 for various other candidates.
  2. As expected, the attempt by some conservatives to dislodge Boehner failed to succeed. However, 24 House Republicans voted for candidates other than Boehner, with one more voting "present" and a few others choosing not to vote.
  3. Of the Republican dissidents, 12 voted for Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), a former speaker of the Florida House. The two other announced challengers to Boehner, Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), got three and two votes, respectively (including a vote of each for himself). Other protest votes were cast by Republicans for Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and Trey Gowdy (R-SC).
  4. Democrats were more unified, voting overwhelmingly for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). But a few in the party cast protest votes for Colin Powell, Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Pete DeFazio (D-OR), and John Lewis (D-GA). Many Democrats also chose to miss the vote to attend the funeral of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.
  5. Because of the House's voting rules, Boehner needed at least 205 of the 408 votes that ended up being cast to win on the first ballot. He reached that number with some room to spare.

Why the closer margin may be somewhat misleading

It's true that more Republicans voted against Boehner than the 11 that did so in 2013 (with a twelfth voting "present"). But, as Jon Bernstein argued at Bloomberg View, the apparently closer margin may be somewhat misleading — because when the GOP chose its party leaders behind closed doors last year, there was no serious effort to dislodge Boehner. These very public votes are mainly "a way for the radicals to differentiate themselves from mainstream conservatives" and "a way for some to signal they haven't "gone Washington," writes Bernstein.

Plus, the GOP has a bigger House majority this year — and Boehner can therefore afford to lose more Republicans without actually losing the vote. Jim Antle of the Daily Caller tweeted a similar point: