As the GOP Gains Control of the House, What Does the Party Have to Do?

The Republican Party has gained control of the House.

ByABC News
November 3, 2010, 12:45 PM

Nov. 3, 2010— -- With the ballots now counted and the Republican Party gaining control of the House, unifying the diverse Republican Party and minimizing chaos is likely to dominate the party's agenda.

Ohio Rep. John Boehner, who is expected to become the next Speaker of the House, has two years to make tangible difference before the 2012 presidential election.

"[Boehner's] first challenge is to control the rebels," said Julian Zelizer, political analyst and professor of politics at Princeton University. "Some of the ideological division we see will be because of the Tea Party types, but also just because of freshmen determined to show they're not part of the status quo."

The House was won by the GOP thanks to voters' dislike of the Obama administration combined with the independent voters.

"The Republicans don't want to look like a whole cohort of Christine O'Donnell's came to town," said Zelizer referring to the losing Tea Party candidate who admitted during the campaign she once dabbled in witchcraft. "Maverick outsiders who are good at attack politics but who are not necessarily politicians who can't handle the responsibilities of the office."

"Boehner has to make sure that's not the image that people are left with in two years," said Zelizer.

Among the campaign issues that energized the Tea Party was a promise to repeal the health care bill that was passed earlier this year after a bitter legislative battle, while others in Congress favor modifying the bill.

"The GOP really needs to decide whether their strategy is to try to obtain some legislation that their supporters would like or to focus on a strategy on pure obstruction and grandstanding. Both have dangers and benefits," Zelizer said.

Sydney Blumenthal, a former Clinton adviser and author of "The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party," said Boehner will be tested by having to integrate the more conservative Tea Party members with House veterans.

"The balance for the Republicans is going to be very difficult to maintain given the weight of the far right within the House conference and the immediate, instant start of the Republican presidential season with Sarah Palin as a major force, if not a candidate," said Blumenthal.

But Republican strategist Ron Kaufman told ABC News that Americans can expect the incoming GOP class to get done what they promised voters during the campaign and said that he expects the party to be less divided than some analysts are predicting.