Washington Watch: House speaker vote: Betting markets see McHenry as more likely than Jordan to get the job permanently

The House’s temporary speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry, has seen a surge in his chances of getting the post on a more permanent basis, with one betting market putting them as high as 34% on Wednesday.

The North Carolina Republican’s improved odds come as his party’s nominee for speaker, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, has failed to secure the job in two rounds of voting. The number of fellow Republicans voting against the Ohioan rose to 22 on Wednesday, up from 20 a day earlier.

The rise in McHenry’s chances to 34% put them above Jordan’s, which had dropped to 12.5% on Wednesday afternoon. That’s shown in the chart below from Smarkets, a betting market.


Smarkets

Betting markets were wrong about last year’s midterm elections and can be poor predictors for several reasons. The clientele for political gambling can get caught up in narratives, one expert in political gambling and prediction markets told MarketWatch after the 2022 midterms.

It’s an “increasingly conventional take that McHenry should run the show,” said Liam Donovan, a former GOP operative who is now a principal at law and lobbying firm Bracewell, in a post on X late Tuesday.

Republican Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio is expected to introduce a resolution on Wednesday that would expand the interim speaker’s powers.

“After two weeks without a Speaker of the House and no clear candidate with 217 votes in the Republican conference, it is time to look at other viable options. By empowering Patrick McHenry as Speaker Pro Tempore we can take care of our ally Israel until a new Speaker is elected,” Joyce said in a statement, according to multiple published reports.

But there’s also a view that McHenry doesn’t need to have his powers expanded.

“Once in place, and until a new Speaker can be elected, there is no practical limit on the ability of the Speaker pro tempore to act as an elected Speaker, mainly because there is no way other than passing a resolution defining the powers of the position to stop him from serving as an elected Speaker,” wrote Mark Strand, an adjunct professor of legislative affairs at George Washington University and a former president of the Congressional Institute, in a blog post.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who racked up all House Democrat votes for speaker on Tuesday and Wednesday, signaled openness to a McHenry option, saying the North Carolinian is respected on both sides of the aisle, adding that the same assessment is applicable to “a host” of other Republicans, not including Jordan.


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