House Majority leader Eric Cantor has become a signpost of the ideological conservative faction within the Republican Party. There is a rift forming within the Republican Party between those that feel the party needs to move towards a more moderate position on the political spectrum and those who feel the party needs to get back to its conservative roots.
Cantor’s decision to vote against House Speaker John Boehner in the compromise bill to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff was seen by some as a move towards the later. In that vote, 84 republicans backed Boehner with a “aye” vote, while 150 voted “no”, lining up behind Cantor. Cantor is one of three GOP “young guns” in the house along with Rep. Paul Ryan and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. Paul Ryan’s “aye” vote on the compromise bill may signal a divide between the trio. With almost two thirds of the house republicans voting against Boehner, it seems both the leadership and direction of the republican party is up in the air.
When the midterm elections occur in 2014, the voices of the republican voters will be heard and should give a strong indication as to where their party is heading going into 2016. If these republican voters punish representatives that voted for the compromise bill, than there could be a significant turnover in leadership. This could leave an opening for Eric Cantor to make a move to become Speaker of the House, which would bring him one step closer to the presidency. The focus would then shift to whether his popularity within the Republican Party, especially within the Tea Party, would be enough for him to win a national election.