It was one of the toughest votes they’ve had to cast in their congressional careers. But here’s why 85 House Republicans broke with most of their GOP colleagues — and decades of anti-tax orthodoxy — to back President Barack Obama’s tax hike bill:
Their districts are conservative — but not so conservative that jumping off the fiscal cliff wouldn’t potentially backfire in the next election. A general-election challenge from the left is a bigger threat than a primary from the right. And being able to tell most of their constituents they shielded them from a big tax hike was more important than being accused by a vocal few of selling out Republican principles.
“The ability to go home and say, ‘We found a solution, no matter how messy it may be,’ is an asset to them,” said Brian Walsh, former political director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “It’s because of the types of districts they come from.”
“The list of ‘yes’ votes is filled with moderates — those folks largely focused on the general election in 2014,” Walsh added.