Simply put, McCarthy can’t guarantee success, in part because party power is not what it used to be on Capitol Hill, especially for the GOP.
Promises of special projects in the home district — a bridge here, a road there — no longer exist as an enticement. Pledges of fundraising help often draw little interest in the age of super PACs, which can deliver huge sums to a favored campaign on a moment’s notice. [Strictly speaking, the Super PAC money goes to independent expenditures, not the candidate's own campaign.] Personal pleas for fealty to party leaders fall on deaf ears among a new generation of conservatives who often prefer to be more closely allied with external movement leaders than with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
All these complicating factors were on full display this week as more than 60 Republicans opposed the House leaders, joining Democrats to defeat a five-year farm bill. The bill was crafted to address the conservative ethos that now controls the caucus. It cut food-stamp programs and eliminated some cash payments to farmers. But for most of those Republicans, it wasn’t conservative enough, and they were willing to let it die.