Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lessons From GOP Cantor's Stunning Primary Loss

Stunned political pundits are trying to explain the Virginia primary loss of GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Are there lessons for campaigns and causes charging toward the midterm elections? Cantor's loss certainly was not due to a lack of money; Cantor outspent his Republican primary rival Dave Brat by 26 to 1 courtesy of big-business donors. So those facing big-money challengers take heart, and candidates with overflowing coffers take heed.  Fundraising that earns a "crony capitalist" label can come back to bite you: Cantor's unabashed big-donor image allowed Brat to successfully appeal to voters' populist sentiments. A recent analysis in The Atlantic magazine sums up other Cantor vulnerabilities that candidates will want to avoid. For example, don't go wrong on litmus issues: Cantor's support of certain pieces of immigration reform allowed Tea Party-stalwart Brat to win Conservative votes by accusing Cantor of "blanket amnesty" support. Next, remember that personality counts: Cantor, who has been described as arrogant and self-serving, apparently made more enemies than friends on his ambitious climb to House Majority Leader via leaps from moderate Republican to Tea Party and back toward the middle, and so earned distrust, dislike and Conservative responses ranging from apathy to outright opposition during the primary. And never lose touch with the home front: Cantor didn't pay attention to his constituent base while he played Washington power games and wooed donors. Plus, he then sought to change state central committee rules before the primary to minimize right-wing activists, a misguided effort to "vigorously poke a nest of already-angry hornets" as one Republican operative told The Atlantic. For more, see the article at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/06/six-theories-for-eric-cantors-loss/372552/

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