As both sides debate whether the President’s new “charm offensive” with the GOP is real or manufactured, it’s worth taking a look at just how many rank-and-file Republicans are even open to Obama’s entreaties.
In the last year, three pieces of significant legislation passed the House with a minority of GOP members joining a majority of Democrats; a.ka. a bi-partisan majority. Those three are: the Violence Against Women Act, emergency funding for Hurricane Sandy relief, and the “fiscal cliff” bill that raised taxes on those making over $400,000/year.
The Violence Against Women Act won the most cross-over support with 87 Republicans, while the Sandy aid bill received the fewest at 49 GOP votes. Also worth noting is the fact that there were 23 Republicans who voted for all three of these. Another 39 Republicans voted for two of these three.
In other words, of the 230 Republicans in Congress, 10 to 17 percent can be considered persuadable. Almost all 23 who voted for all three bills hail from the northeast. They include Republican Reps. Charlie Dent from suburban Philadelphia, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and Michael Grimm of New York. The larger group that voted for at least two of the three includes members of the GOP leadership like Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, NRCC Chairman Greg Walden, and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.
Republican Reps Who Voted With Democrats
3/3 Times (23)
2/3 Times (39)
If these House Republicans represent the “coalition of the willing” - those open to supporting legislation that the President supports as well – there’s another, larger group of Republicans that represent the “coalition of the un-willing” – Republicans who Obama will never be able to count on.
There were 86 Republicans who voted against all three bills. Another 73 voted against at least two of these three pieces of legislation. This means that anywhere from one-third to almost 40 percent of Republicans in the House are reflexively against almost anything that smacks of compromise with the president or his party. Many of the members in this group also happen to be the ones who show up on TV and are quoted extensively in print. Folks like Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Justin Amash of Michigan and Raul Labrador of Idaho.
Republican Reps Who Voted Against Democrats
3/3 Times (86)
On the Senate side, the coalition of the willing is about the same size as that in the House. Eight of the 45 Republicans in the Senate - or about 17 percent - voted for all three of those bills. However, all voted against at least one of the three nominees' Obama put forward for a cabinet post - Jack Lew, Chuck Hagel, and John Brennan. Half voted for only one or none of the nominees. Not surprisingly, Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski were two of the most likely to break ranks. But, this list also includes southern Republicans like Roger Wicker (MS), David Vitter (LA) and Lamar Alexander (TN).
Republican Senators Who Voted with Democrats
3/3 Times (8)
2/3 Times (12)
The "coalition of the "unwilling", is much smaller in the Senate than the House. Just four Republicans - Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), Mike Lee (UT), Rand Paul (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL) - voted against all three of these bills. Grassley and Lee also voted against Lew, Hagel and Brennan. Still, there were another 18 who voted against at least two of the three. That list includes GOP brand names like Lindsey Graham (SC), Ron Johnson (WI) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Meanwhile, though House Democrats don't have much power or influence these days, they too have their own "coalition of the willing" that is worth watching. Fifty-three Democrats - or about 25 percent of the Democratic Caucus - joined 214 House Republicans in supporting the continuing resolution to keep the government funding for this fiscal year. That legislation included all of the cuts in domestic programs mandated by the sequestration - not a very popular position among the liberal leaning members of the Democratic party.
To be sure, there's just so much that we should read into just a handful of votes. Yet, it's also important to note that despite the red-hot rhetoric from both sides, and talk of ossified partisanship and primary challenges to those members who are "unfaithful" to party orthodoxy , there is a small - but influential - group of members that are, at best, willing to compromise, and at worst, willing to prevent the worst from happening.
Web Editor Loren Fulton contributed to this report.