House Republicans have elected the most conservative speaker of the last century, by some measures, the first to identify so forcefully as both a budget hawk and champion of right-leaning social values. Now the question is whether a party this far to the right, with a speaker to match, can keep control of its House majority in a competitive election year.

As soon as GOP lawmakers voted unanimously on Wednesday to give Rep. Mike Johnson the speaker’s gavel, Republicans in political swing districts, who need independent and Democratic votes for re-election, began defining the little-known Louisiana lawmaker as someone broadly acceptable to Americans—an old-style Republican devoted to familiar conservative causes, such as fiscal restraint and national security. 

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