Johnson survived his first ouster attempt. Making it past November will be harder.

Barely 24 hours after muddying her timeline, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) did it anyway — and lost big. Speaker Mike Johnson survived Greene’s first proposal to oust him, which was tabled on a lightning-quick 359-43 vote, with seven Democrats voting present.

Only 10 conservatives voted alongside Greene to keep her speaker-firing push alive. It was an unquestionable victory for Johnson, though he got a big boost from the vast majority of Democrats who voted to keep him in place.

But the Louisiana Republican’s time as speaker may have a serious time limit. Johnson reiterated this week that he intends to run again for the House’s top spot if Republicans keep the majority — and winning that race will be much tougher than his surprise victory last October.

Johnson’s clearest remarks to date on his future plans drew a notable degree of skepticism from conservatives — even those who supported him on Wednesday’s ouster vote.

A broad pulse check of Johnson’s right flank turned up two main findings: Quite a few aren’t committed to supporting him come January; and, in a larger potential headache, some of them anticipate he’ll have a challenger.

“You’re going to see … multiple folks throw their names in the hat,” said Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.). He declined to talk about whether he would personally back Johnson.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said that whether he votes for Johnson in January “depends on who is running” but that he “absolutely” expects a challenger.

“This is beyond personalities,” he added. “This is, what are you going to do?”

Frustration on Johnson’s right has been building for months, mainly over a series of government funding fights, a recent battle over government surveillance powers and his decision to pass billions of dollars in new Ukraine aid. Johnson met with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus on Monday night, when members lined up to air their frustrations with his strategy.

Many said they don’t think Johnson has fought hard enough for conservative priorities, Republicans in the group recounted to us.

“He hasn’t made a strong case,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said about whether he could back Johnson again in January, stressing that he is focused on November for now.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) — who mounted a symbolic challenge to former Speaker Kevin McCarthy in late 2022 — told us he isn’t running again for the top spot, but that “there are people positioning themselves to run for speaker.”

Obviously, Johnson’s main antagonists will continue to oppose him: Greene, alongside Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). And the speaker’s number of prospective January foes grew during Wednesday’s surprise ouster test vote, with eight hardliners joining that trio: Biggs, Roy and Reps. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.), Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), Barry Moore (R-Ala.) and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.).

Now, some of those conservatives — Mooney and Crane in particular — had already indicated they weren’t in favor of bouncing the speaker at this point. They may portray their votes as nothing more than procedural moves in favor of further debate on Johnson. Burlison, for example, told us after the vote that he is open to supporting Johnson in January but couldn’t stomach voting with Democrats to table on Wednesday.

Either way, it’s not a great sign for the next leadership election.

Greene and her allies met twice with Johnson this week and have outlined four areas they want to see action on — leaving the door open, however vaguely, to repeated ouster attempts before the election. Those talks haven’t seemed to shake their belief that Johnson can’t win come January.

“I think that’s still the case. It’s pretty obvious,” Massie said.

The size of Johnson’s problem come January depends on a few things, namely a favorite variable of House GOP leaders: the size of their majority. Unlike McCarthy, Johnson is keeping his public estimates low, predicting that they will grow the majority but it will still be relatively narrow — in the neighborhood of a 10-seat margin.

That would give him more room to maneuver than his predecessor, who had to make steep concessions to hardliners in order to win the gavel. But it’s not enough space for him to feel comfortable.

Of course, whether he can keep the gavel also depends on who could successfully challenge him, and House Republicans made it clear this past October that such a person isn’t easy to find.

The conference would first hold internal leadership votes sometime after the November election, where Johnson would only need a simple majority of the GOP to become the speaker nominee — and get a much better sense of the size of his opposition.

Assuming, of course, that the GOP holds onto the House. If Republicans don’t win the majority, importantly, they expect Johnson — like most speakers when the chamber flips — would be swept out of leadership. Or as one GOP member, who backs the speaker, acknowledged on condition of anonymity: “If we’re in the minority, where is he going to go? Out.”

Daniella Diaz contributed.