Many people had expected that tonight would be the night that Kevin McCarthy would clinch the speakership of the U.S. House of Representatives. And indeed, McCarthy was able to clinch it. But the question was how and in what fashion would McCarthy clinch the position? In my mind, there were two possible outcomes. For one, McCarthy could have gotten two “yes” votes out of the remaining six holdouts and clinch the position, which would have been easier for McCarthy to accomplish than getting the three “present” votes that certain folks were touting. And second, my inclination was towards the idea that McCarthy would have to cut a deal with all six holdouts. But I did not entertain the suggestion that three “present” votes could make it possible, as others were suggesting. And as the first round of tonight and the fourteen round overall showed, McCarthy was not able to succeed with the strategy of picking off two out of the remaining six to win or getting three to vote “present” and essentially pick off three holdouts out of the six.
In the fourteenth round, four of the holdouts voted against McCarthy, while two decided to vote “present,” most likely because there were some lingering minutiae that they had not ironed out with McCarthy. Thus, in the fourteenth round of voting, McCarthy was unable to persuade any of the six holdouts to vote in favor of him. But after some on-camera drama and perhaps some immediate deal-making, all six holdouts voted “present” in concert with one another in the fifteenth and final round, thus demonstrating that the holdouts were going to go into tonight as a package. Arguably, the six holdouts did not intend on being picked apart, whereby McCarthy could get two of them to vote in favor of him or get three of them to vote “present” while casting aside the remaining three or four. It appears that in both rounds tonight, the six holdouts voted in concert and in unison with one another and as a package, and for some reason, the six holdouts together kept the deadlock intact in the first round, while in the second round, the six holdouts decided in unison and in concert with one another that the deadlock would be removed.
I ended the previous blog post with the suggestion that McCarthy had to “close the deal” with the remaining six because the strategy of holding out was essentially being managed and orchestrated, as I had mentioned a few days ago. And as tonight demonstrated, the final six holdouts did indeed vote in unison and in concert with one another and as a team in both rounds. McCarthy was not able to pick them apart based on the two to win or three to vote “present” scenarios in either round of voting. As mentioned before, there was much talk in the media about scenarios whereby the “present” vote could be brought down by a certain number so that the threshold for “yes” votes could be lowered and in turn clear the path for McCarthy.
But as mentioned before, that essentially amounts to picking away at the remaining six and taking a few away while casting aside the others. That would not work when it was evident that the six were working in unison and in concert with one another, and that the holdout strategy was being managed and orchestrated. Moreover, McCarthy would have had to offer something in return for getting two or three to break away from the pack. But as tonight showed, whatever it was that was offered to the holdouts, it had to have been offered to all six of the final holdouts together and with the mutual consent of all six holdouts together. All in all, it was a spectacle, and a historic one as well, which one must note, the Democrats were not very happy about at the very end.