Eric Cantor was the second most powerful Republican in the nation, yet he lost to a little known candidate who’s never held office.
What does his stunning defeat say about the voters in Virginia and the Republican Party’s future?
Cantor’s earth shattering defeat is sending shockwaves through Washington. The Republican House Majority Leader was thought to be a speaker in waiting, but some say yesterday’s upset maybe be a lesson to others – you can’t forget your constituents.
University of Richmond political professor Ernest McGowen believes Tuesday’s vote was not so much a vote on issues or ideology but a vote against cantor.
“Clearly Brat people were going out to vote against Cantor,” he says.
He argues that by the numbers, Cantor was losing ground in his last election in 2012. A public policy poll out after the vote found Cantor’s disapproval rating at 63 percent.
McGowen believes constituents felt he was no longer working for them and that his only loyalty to his own ambitions.
Adding credit to the theory, Cantor wasn’t even in the district for Tuesday’s vote.
“It is really easy to see how people could have gotten a bit miffed that he was out of touch with what it really meant to be in the Central Virginia district and then went out to vote against him.”
“I don’t know that you can call it a dislike of Cantor at all,” says Pat Mullins, Chair of the Republican Party of Virginia. “I think it was just they wanted to make a change.”
But if it’s change voters want, what does that mean for the Republican Party?
Some argue the GOP is losing ground in Virginia. In November, they lost three major posts – Governor, Attorney General and Lt. Governor – and now the second most powerful Republican in Washington.
“I think we are on the right track,” Mullins says. “We know where we have to do a reach out we have to do more reach out to women.”
And the Chair of the Republican Party of Virginia says that the GOP still controls eight of the 11 congressional seats in Virginia.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
COMPLETE COVERAGE: House Majority Leader Cantor Defeated in Va. Primary