The battle for Speaker of House reached a historical milestone today. Kevin McCarthy, Republican Leader The 11th round saw them fall short yet again. In the past 100 years, there has been only one vote for the speaker’s position. Since the Civil War the number of ballots has not exceeded two digits.
Despite all the political drama, the contested elections to be speaker are It is not unusual in American history — fully ⅓ of the first 30 Congresses did not select their Speaker of the House on the first ballot, although the majority of these contests were settled in the 2nd or 3rd round. Only four of these contestants made it to the double digits. Two took more ballots that the 2023 election. In 1819, the speaker was determined on the 22nd ballot. The contest was won in the 12th round in 1821.
In this period of American history, the parties were less ideological and more coalitions of various interests, and party apparatuses were by necessity more decentralized, so some division and last minute leadership struggles were much more likely — battles within our early parties for control of the gavel were not earth shattering events.