Below we update a previous post in light of Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) decision to drop out of the race for Speaker. We use Common Space DW-NOMINATE scores (updated weekly here) to plot the ideological positions of current and past House Republicans. Common Space DW-NOMINATE scores provide a summary measure of legislators’ liberal-conservative locations based on their entire roll call voting records, and allow for direct ideological comparisons between members of Congress across time.
The plot below shows McCarthy is actually slightly less conservative than both Speaker Boehner and former Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who was defeated last year in a primary challenge. Republicans such as Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) (who was set to run for House Majority Leader before McCarthy’s announcement) appear to be more ideologically in tune with the current House Republican caucus. Other Republicans who are considering running for the Speaker post—such as Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)—have bonafide conservative positions, but are probably too far to the right to attract much support outside of the Freedom Caucus.