Eric Cantor’s loss is historic. No sitting House majority leader has lost an election since the office was created in 1899. While Cantor’s loss was a stunning surprise, the warning signals were around for a while:
1. Cantor managed to muddle his message on immigration. His direct-mail pieces claimed he was foursquare against amnesty. But the newspapers covering Washington, D.C., quoted him as saying he was seeking a compromise with President Obama on immigration. Voters resolved the seeming contradiction by deciding to vote out their establishment congressman. Cantor’s loss destroys any chance of a comprehensive immigration bill passing the House this year.
2. The majority leader outspent his opponent, David Brat, by $2.5 million to $200,000. Much of that money went to negative ads against Brat that turned off voters and were so vitriolic as not to be credible.
3. Cantor was also hurt by a subterranean campaign by Democrats to convince their supporters to vote in the Republican primary against Cantor. Apparently, some of them did.
John Fund is a columnist for National Review Online.