Jim Jordan just lost his third round of voting in the race for House Speaker.
We reported on those details here in case you missed it:
Is he on the path to 15 rounds of voting like we saw with McCarthy?
If he wants to avoid that, perhaps he needs to listen to Fox News who explains a "risky gambit" that could get him in with less than a majority:
Jordan could become speaker without a House majority with a risky gambit last used before the Civil War https://t.co/X18ztzVOHA
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 18, 2023
Fox News explains how it would work:
Jordan does not necessarily need to get the required House majority to take the gavel. The House has elected a speaker a few times in history on a plurality rather than an outright majority.
The House is allowed to decide how the speaker election is held, according to House Practice, so changing the threshold is an option on the table.
In fact, there have been two plurality elections to decide the House speaker in American history.
In 1856, during the 34th Congress ahead of the Civil War, the House faced a fractured chamber after concessions and dividing lines over slavery had been burned into the sand.
A fledgling Republican Party, a decimated Democratic Party, the nativist American (Know-Nothing) Party and a declining Whig Party could not decide on a top House lawmaker.
When voting began, 21 members received votes backing them for speaker on the first ballot, throwing the House into a deadlock that lasted two months.
There is historical precedent for such a move, although not in recent times...
The Speaker of the House of Representatives in the USA is typically elected by a majority of the total membership of the House, meaning that the winning candidate needs 50% of the votes plus at least one more. However, there have been a few instances in history where the election of the Speaker required multiple ballots or was complicated due to factionalism, vacancies, or other unique circumstances.
Here's a look at some of those instances:
- 1849: Howell Cobb, a Democrat from Georgia, was elected Speaker after a prolonged battle. The House took 63 ballots over several weeks before Cobb was chosen. He didn't receive an outright majority on the initial ballots, as the House was deeply divided over issues like slavery.
- 1855-1856: The election of Nathaniel Banks as Speaker was one of the longest and most contentious in U.S. history. The 34th Congress faced a fragmented House because of the decline of the Whig party and the rise of anti-slavery parties like the Free Soil Party and the nascent Republican Party. It took over two months and 133 ballots for Banks, a candidate of the newly-formed Republican Party, to secure the speakership. He ultimately won on a plurality because the House changed its rules to allow for the election of the Speaker by a plurality rather than a majority.
- 1923: Frederick H. Gillett, a Republican, was re-elected Speaker in the 68th Congress, but the first ballot did not yield a majority winner. It was a contentious vote that arose because of a bloc of Progressive Republicans who initially didn't support him. On the 9th ballot, Gillett received a plurality and was deemed elected after a resolution was passed to that effect.
It should be noted that while these moments are exceptional, the vast majority of Speakers have been elected with clear majorities on the first ballot. Instances requiring multiple ballots or resulting in plurality wins are rare in the long history of the U.S. House of Representatives.