The House GOP is becoming more homogeneous, but the party still has a geographic split. In votes to defer the fiscal cliff and fund the Hurricane Sandy recovery, Republicans from blue states and competitive districts tacked left. Not many remain, thanks to gerrymandering and partisan self-sorting, but the GOP holds 12 of the 18 districts in Pennsylvania and half of the 12 in New Jersey. Most of New York's six GOP members represent competitive turf.
Of 24 Northeastern House Republicans, only one (New Jersey's Scott Garrett) voted with his party against the cliff agreement and one (Pennsylvania's Keith Rothfus) opposed the Sandy funds. Many complained loudly when Speaker John Boehner put off the Sandy aid bill last week. Brookings Institution fellow John Hudak calculated that 60 percent of House Republicans in districts that President Obama carried in 2008 voted for the fiscal deal. It goes to show there are still enough vulnerable members — more than the party's House majority of 17 — to cost Republicans control of the chamber.
ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID, NEVER A BRIDE
Some of Washington's most talented people keep barely missing out with the Obama administration. A pair of them — two-time acting CIA chief Michael Morell and former Undersecretary of State Michele Flournoy — faced recent disappointment as their agencies' top jobs went to higher-profile candidates. Some big-name politicians, such as former Govs. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, were potential Cabinet members in 2008 and have been discussed this year, but they risk fading into obscurity if they don't score a position.