In a shocking surprise, Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his primary election against political newcomer David Brat. Here are some takeaways from Cantor’s loss.
1) Money doesn’t always matter
Many people say there is too much money in politics and that money ruins it. All candidates seem to do is raise money because the more money they raise the easier it is to get the message out. That theory doesn’t apply to this race.
Cantor raised millions for his re-election bid, $5.5 million to be exact. He outspent his opponent, David Brat, by a ton. Brat, a college professor, only raised $200,000. Of that, he only spent $122,000. Brat found a way to get his “Castor is out of touch” message out cheaply and effectively.
2) Immigration reform is dead
Brat hammered Cantor on immigration throughout the campaign. He claimed Cantor supported amnesty for illegal immigrants already in this country. The House Majority Leader denied that, but did support granting legal status to DREAMers, people that were brought to this country illegally when they were children.
This means any immigration reform talk is dead on arrival for 2014. Other Republicans won’t get entangled in immigration talks for fear of losing their own primaries. That means immigration will remain status quo. Status quo, of course, isn’t working. Working or not, like Run DMC said, “That’s the way it is.”
3) The Tea Party is alive
Sort of. The Tea Party philosophy is one of small government. That message still sells well in much of the country, but what’s interesting about Brat’s victory over Cantor is what little national Tea Party support Brat had.
The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund is run by Jenny Beth Martin. By her own admission, she only started paying attention to the Brat/Cantor primary 18 hours before votes were cast. After Brat’s victory, her group sent out a press release spelling Brat’s name wrong. The headline read, “TPPCF Chairman Jenny Beth Martin Lauds David Brent, Grassroots Activists.”
National Tea Party groups didn’t raise money for Brat during the campaign because they thought he would lose. Because of that, the Tea Party only receives partial credit in this election, even if they are now trying to take all the credit.
This election in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District also further exposed the fight for the very soul of the Grand Old Party. On one side it’s the establishment like Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). They represent the moderate wing of the party. On the other side it the smaller government, Tea Party-types like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT).The questions yet to be answered is which side will win and can these two factions co-exist to form one strong party capable of winning the White House in 2016?
4) All politics is still local
Rep. Cantor served seven terms as the congressman from the 7th Congressional District in Virginia. Apparently, that was enough for the voters in his district who felt it was time for a change.
The phrase, “All politics is local” implies that voters care about their core issues, not the issues in Washington, D.C. It appeared Cantor lost touch with the voters in his district and Brat capitalized on it. It’s not over for Brat yet either. He still has a November candidate to face off against, Democrat Jack Trammel. If Brat wants to win, he should remember to stay in touch with his potential constituents.
5) Voter turnout was crazy low
About 12 percent of voters showed up at the polls Tuesday in Virginia. Brat won with 55 percent of the vote, which translates to receiving support of about 7 percent of potential voters. A mere 7 percent support was all it took to win. However that is sliced, only David Brat should be happy about that.