John McCain’s dramatic early-morning “no” vote may have been the immediate cause of the Republican failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. However, Republicans undertook this endeavor from a weak political vantage point. The 2016 elections gave Republicans very little margin for error in Congress – a margin threatened by Trump’s inexperience and lack of political capital. Longer-term trends, including the polarization of the two congressional parties against the backdrop of increasingly nationalized elections, exacerbated this situation by leaving Trump and Republicans little choice but to legislate through their own party caucus – or to not legislate at all.
We thank Maggie Joseph for her invaluable research assistance.
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