The Canvass community was accurate in its predictions about the House leadership chaos this year. Survey respondents consistently said former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wouldn’t make it to the end of this Congress in the job.
McCarthy’s ouster in early October — punishment for working with Democrats to fund the government — kicked off an embarrassing three-week race to replace him.
From the onset of this Congress, we asked both Hill staffers and K Street leaders about McCarthy’s tenure, and the results were pretty consistent. When we polled K Street in January, 69% of respondents said he’d be out before 2025. In February, 60% of Hill staffers said he’d be out of the speaker’s job before the end of the Congress.
Of those who thought McCarthy wouldn’t last the whole Congress, many correctly predicted he would be out within seven to 12 months. He lasted 10 months.
As it turns out, the California Republican also wouldn’t last as a member of Congress for the entire term. McCarthy is retiring at the end of this year, foregoing the rest of his tenure.
On the other hand, Capitol Hill staffers give Speaker Mike Johnson better odds than they gave McCarthy. About 73% said Johnson would remain speaker for the rest of this Congress when we polled them in November.
Remember, Johnson was a relatively unknown lawmaker going into the speaker’s race to replace McCarthy. He emerged as the GOP consensus pick after House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) all tried and failed to secure the gavel.
While Canvass respondents think Johnson will stay in office for the rest of the 118th session, you can be sure it’s not going to be a smooth ride. The same far-right crew that kicked out McCarthy has already criticized some of Johnson’s early moves.
Johnson must also contend with whether to provide aid to Ukraine, a possible Biden impeachment and another government funding debacle come January.
— Robert O’Shaughnessy