Why is Paul Ryan having such a hard time selling his Obamacare repeal to the ultra-conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus? One chart tells the story:
According to DW-NOMINATE, when Ryan first entered Congress in 1999 he was the 18th most conservative member of the House. Almost no one was more conservative than Ryan. He was a member in good standing of the ultras.
But every year he got a little more moderate. By 2014, he ranked only 51st. The tea partiers who have been elected in the past decade look at Ryan as a guy who sold out. He’s no longer even in the top 50, let alone the top 30 or 40 that it takes to be a solid ultra.
To you and me, 51st out of 435 seems pretty damn conservative. But to the folks who rank from 1st to 40th, Ryan looks like a guy who’s steadily compromised with the swamp until he’s become just another get-along-go-along guy. They don’t trust him, and that’s why he can’t convince them to vote for his health care bill.