Where Things Stand: A Little Bit Of Anecdotal Data

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: U.S. Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz (R-FL) talks to Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert (R-CO) in the House Chamber during the fourth day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building o... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: U.S. Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz (R-FL) talks to Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert (R-CO) in the House Chamber during the fourth day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Speaker after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on several ballots; the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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In the few hours we weren’t furiously updating our liveblog covering the lawless speakership election each day last week, I spent most of my downtime answering texts and explaining to friends what exactly was happening on the House floor.

Why are people saying we don’t have a House of Representatives? Wait, why is the smug guy mad at the other smug guy? Who do you want to win?

None of these were questions with simple answers. And that is coming from someone who spent the majority of her awake hours with her colleagues covering each turn of the surreally historic scenes unfolding on the House floor — one of which almost ended in a physical altercation. For those of us in the trenches each day — and for those who are loyally and fervently following along at home — last week was a reminder of who truly holds power in the modern-day Republican Party. It was the moment that the extremist, burn-it-all-down segment that’s been emboldened and truly in charge for more than a decade flexed its muscles in a spectacle that humiliated Kevin McCarthy, who is as responsible as anyone for its festering.

My colleague Josh Marshall described the Obama-era origins here.

The hardliner faction of the Republican Party was able to grab the spotlight from the conference’s supposed leaders, which gamely allowed it to hold center stage for days and days on end. It was just the beginning of what will be a dysfunctional Republican majority over the next two years, as the nihilist caucus wields the power it holds to create an unending ruckus over conspiracy theories, Fox News grievances and manufactured culture wars, all to score political points — and likely triggering an economic crisis along the way.

In some ways it’s a gift to Democrats: the Republican Party will continue to humiliate itself without Democrats having to lift a finger to draw attention to said humiliation. But, do most people who casually consume news get why the hardliners were being loud in the first place? Do they care?

The Associated Press put out a piece this weekend featuring some man-on-the-street interviews asking Colorado residents in Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) district how they feel about their trolling congresswoman, after she barely eked out a reelection victory and after she and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) willingly became the face of the House floor train wreck last week.

Several of those the AP spoke with stood by the lawmaker who has made a name for herself through social media aggression and picking Trumpian fights, but they also lamented that she could probably stand to “tone down the nasty rhetoric.”

“Tone down the nasty rhetoric on occasion and just stick with the point at hand,” Debbie Hartman, who voted for Boebert in 2020 and 2022, told the AP.

This is one AP story from one sample of humans in a politically diverse state. And we have learned as an industry to not rely on the cringey national-news-journalist-checks-temperature-of-entire-country-by-hanging-out-at-local-diner-for-an-hour type of coverage to give us a practical handle on what constituents think of their elected officials or what it will mean for politics going forward.

But of the handful of people the AP talked to, the majority of them weren’t thrilled with her actions in the past week. They didn’t seem entirely clear what she was doing or why. It may be a stretch to tie this sentiment from a few Colorado Boebert supporters to a larger national conversation about what happens when people get tired of extremism. But as the at-least-partial rejection of Big Lie candidates taught us in the midterms, if the thing you’re yelling about falls flat enough times, people might get tired of listening to you yell.

The Best Of TPM Today

Here’s what you should read this evening:

In case you missed it last week — catch up on our live coverage of the chaos Friday night here: McCarthy Finally Elected Speaker In 15th Round Of Votes

And Kate Riga’s rundown of the whole evening here: McCarthy Finally Gets Gavel After Losing 14 Speakership Votes

Fulton County Special Grand Jury Completes Trump Investigation

Trump Faces New Insurrection Lawsuit Seeking To Bar His 2024 Campaign

Jeffries Sums Up Last Week: America Will Continue To Be ‘Held Captive’ By ‘Extreme MAGA Republican Agenda’

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

The Battle of George Santos — Josh Marshall

What We Are Reading

Utah Supreme Court grants legislature’s appeal in redistricting case — Ben Winslow

Restoration of the Ozone Layer Is Back on Track, Scientists Say — Henry Fountain

New Supreme Court Case Could Weaken Unions’ Ability To Strike — Dave Jamieson

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