Rumors of the Tea Party’s Death are Greatly Exaggerated

The running narrative of the midterm election primaries has been that the Tea Party is running out of gas. High-profile challengers from the right were losing most of the races. But then Thad Cochran lost his primary and was forced into a runoff and now House Majority Leader Eric Cantor got whipped in his primary and will lose his seat.

In what’s being called a political “earthquake,” the No. 2 Republican in the House, Eric Cantor, lost his primary on Tuesday to a college professor and tea party neophyte.

Cantor conceded the race with 99% of precincts reporting from the Richmond-area district showing him trailing Dave Brat 56% to 44%, according to the Virginia Secretary of State’s website. Turnout was low.

“Obviously we came up short,” Cantor said in his concession speech.

“It’s disappointing sure but I believe in this country. I believe there is opportunity around the next corner for all of us,” said Cantor, whose loss is all the more shocking because he’s considered very conservative.

Cantor outspent Brat by about $5 million. His campaign spent almost as much on meals at steakhouses as Brat spent on his entire campaign. This is a HUGE upset and it has to shake up Boehner in particular. It also spawned this hilarious Craigslist ad:

Former U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th congressional district, serving since 2001, served as Minority Whip from 2009-2011 and Majority Leader from 2011 – June 10, 2014 when I was handed one of the most embarrassing losses in modern political history. Really regret opposing the extension of unemployment benefits now and calling the Tea Party “a tremendous positive influence” in 2010.

Will count votes (badly) for food.

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  • raven

    aattp.com May 21, 2014:

    CBS News has released the results of a new poll revealing that support for the Tea Party has hit a record low of 15%. This is the lowest percentage reported since CBS first polled on this issue in 2010.

    That was the last mid-term election year, when Tea Party support had peaked at 31%.

    Even among Republicans, only 32% sympathize with the Tea Party, down from the July 2010 peak of 55% —

    Tea party support is down to 15%, 32% for Theothuglicans according to a recent CBS poll.

    The Tea Party isn’t dead but it’s support is at record lows according to polls.

    Strangely enough, this record low support isn’t translating too well into votes. Most national level Tea Partyists lost but they did manage to knock off Cantor and Cochran isn’t looking good running against a kook who committed two felonies during his campaign.

  • garnetstar

    Well, I”m not sure it’s an actual resurgence in Tea Party power or popularity. Only a small percentage of the district voted, and Cantor only lost by 36,000 votes out of however many millions of voter.

    I think that’s because he didn’t pay any attention to turnout, and his opponent really did (he had no money, so it’s all he could do). Cantor thought elections could be bought outright, so he spent time with his donors instead of turning out his vote. His pollster apparently made the mistake of polling the district to see how many would vote for Cantor, but not how many would actually turn out.

    Also, Cantor’s a victim of the government-loathing he helped to instill. Since he’s in the government, he’s one of the ones to be hated. A vicious circle that the Republicans apparently didn’t think of when they got the anti-goverment position going. Then, of course, there’s everyone’s frustration with these do-nothing, lazy Congresses, and they’re right about Cantor being responsible.

    So, the Kochs must be upset, they can’t outright buy elections! Yet. Instead of buying votes, why don’t we just have elections auctioned on eBay? That’d be straightforward.

  • raven

    It doesn’t make much difference whether GOPers call themselves Tea Partyists or not.

    The Tea Party has pulled everyone in the GOP so far right that there simply isn’t much difference. It’s now between right wing extremists and ultra right wing nihilistic crazies.

    They aren’t paying much of a penalty for it right now. They still get elected to screw up the country.

  • daved

    There seem to be about as many theories of why Cantor lost as there are theorists.

    The low turnout is a factor — if you get high wingnut turnout and low normal-people turnout, the wingnuts show influence out of proportion to their actual numbers.

    Cantor was also a lousy congressman; his service to his constituents was very bad. He voted against an aid bill that would have benefited his own district. He got caught being hypocritical about immigration, and immigration was a real wingnut hot button this time around.

    He also had terrible internal polling (thought he was way ahead) and launched a huge barrage of ads slamming Brat, which gave Brat a million dollars (literally) of free publicity.

    I’m sure Brat will be an even bigger obstructionist when it comes to Congress getting anything done (assuming he wins; it’d be wonderful irony if he lost in the face of favorable polls), but as a freshman, he’ll have far less power than Cantor.

  • Artor

    Well, the Teabaggers have the power to spoil primaries for Republicans, but it remains to be seen if they can actually get elected anywhere this cycle. There’s a reason Progressives crow in glee at news like this. The farther to the fringe they go, the fewer votes they can garner.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    It’s about darn time. The Republican party has been infested with Big Government, Big-Spending, Establishment America-haters for too long. And also he was soft on the Illegals. Finally, another small piece of America gets a representative who will stand up and do what his constituents want; shout “No!” slightly louder than his predecessor.

  • Michael Heath

    Rachel Maddow made one of the more idiotic analyses I’ve encountered on TV from a liberal. She smugly argued that because the majority of Cantor’s 7th district is OK with immigration reform, the common wisdom that Cantor lost because of his support of immigration reform is false.

    Someone needs to explain that the representative opinion of the 7th district isn’t representative of Republican primary voters in that same district.

    Maddow’s argument: http://on.msnbc.com/1kPQFqb

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Can we please stop talking about the “Tea Party” as if it were a distinct institution and political movement, as opposed to being extra-nutty Republicans with a messianic streak?

  • Loqi

    @garnetstar

    I don’t think the Kochs (or any of the big money behind the Republican party) give a shit. In the end, they’ll get their way, no matter which flavor of Republican wins. Putting a Tea Party Congressman into your back pocket is just as easy as putting a Rockefeller Republican into your back pocket. It may actually be easier, since the Rockefeller Republican was likely already in the money and feeling invincible, so he could demand a higher price.

  • raven

    There’s a reason Progressives crow in glee at news like this. The farther to the fringe they go, the fewer votes they can garner.

    That makes perfect sense, entirely reasonable.

    Unfortunately, the data that this is true isn’t much. It remains to be proven.

    Seems like no matter how kooky they are, they are still getting elected. Michelle Bachmann, Loui Gohmert, Ted Cruz, Romney the nonxian Reptilian, Sarah Palin the former VP nominee and Alaskan hillbilly, Steve King, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Rick Scott and on and on. An endless parade of not very bright way out there extremists.

    We may add Brat and Cochran’s criminally inclined kooky opponent to that list in a few months.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    And also he was soft on the Illegals.

    If only the Jewish man had been more forceful about wanting to keep “those people” out of the country.

  • colnago80

    Re Loqi @ #9

    Cantor was hardly a Rockefeller Rethuglican. His voting record in the Congress was far to the right of Rockefeller Rethuglicans like Mac Mathias or Mark Hatfield.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    Everyone has a theory about why Cantor lost. Mine is pretty simple: the people of his district realized that he’s a total douchebag.

  • colnago80

    Re raven @ #10

    I would have to take exception to calling Ted Cruz not very bright. As I have commented on earlier threads, such a notion dangerously underestimates Cruz who is highly intelligent, He is the most dangerous person in the Rethuglican Party as he combines high intelligence with an extraordinary capacity for demagoguery. As a demagogue, he rivals Joe McCarthy and Huey Long, and they weren’t too bright.

  • garnetstar

    It’s correct that the Kochs can and will eventually buy whomever’s elected, including some Democrats.

    I was thinking, though, about general elections: presumably the Kochs will buy the Republican candidates, but find that that alone is not always enough to win.

    My heart’s bleeding for them.

  • Jordan Genso

    Someone needs to explain that the representative opinion of the 7th district isn’t representative of Republican primary voters in that same district.

    @7 Michael Heath

    Your point stands, but I think the counter-argument would be:

    It wasn’t his position on immigration that lost him the election, it was his inability to influence who showed up as the primary voters. He had the better position on that issue, he just failed when it came to voter-turnout.

    Granted, I don’t think that counter-argument is superior to yours, but I think it’s a disagreement where both sides can be correct.

    (Rachel did make a couple bad statements during that segment though, so I agree her analysis was idiotic even if her conclusion was defendable)

  • David Marjanović

    Well, the Teabaggers have the power to spoil primaries for Republicans, but it remains to be seen if they can actually get elected anywhere this cycle. There’s a reason Progressives crow in glee at news like this. The farther to the fringe they go, the fewer votes they can garner.

    I can’t find the original anymore, but someone from Virginia has said that the primaries were open to everyone, so a bunch of Democrats showed up and voted for the candidate that will be easier to defeat. No actual numbers were given.

  • busterggi

    As a side note, I tuned into some right-wing radio the next day (I can only do a few minutes at a time due to my blood pressure) and I had never before realized what a Marxist radical Cantor is. The hosts had never mentioned that before.

  • thascius

    @17-“the democrats did it” has pretty much been debunked actually. Turnout in the more Democratic leaning areas of the 7th district was lower this year than in 2012 and turnout in the most Republican areas was higher. Cantor did the worst in the most solidly Republican precincts.

  • dogmeat

    There’s a reason Progressives crow in glee at news like this. The farther to the fringe they go, the fewer votes they can garner.

    While this has often been the case in Senate races, this doesn’t generally hold true in House districts. Cantor’s district has been solidly Republican since ’71, prior to that it was a socially conservative Democratic district (IE Dixiecrat). Cantor won his races by at least 10 points and often by a landslide. Odds are good we’re going to have a new wingnut freshman congressman who is going to shout “NO” louder than Cantor and call for Obama’s impeachment for PWB and PWD.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Have any of the 2010 Teabagger class lost primaries to less-insane Republicans?

    Until that happens, it seems pretty damn stupid to be writing obituaries. Even on spec.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Cantor’s district has been solidly Republican since ’71, prior to that it was a socially conservative Democratic district (IE Dixiecrat). Cantor won his races by at least 10 points and often by a landslide.

    And the district was apparently gerrymandered after the 2010 census to make it an even safer R district for Cantor. So it’s unlikely that a D will win, but ironically, putting too many wingnuts in the district is what helped dethrone Cantor.

    Odds are good we’re going to have a new wingnut freshman congressman who is going to shout “NO” louder than Cantor…

    That’s going to be hard to do. It’s amazing how Cantor went from the radical obstructionist in Congress who kept outflanking Boehner to his right to RINO squish over the course of just one election night.

  • felidae

    I think the voters finally realized what I have known for a long time: Cantor is a scummy, shape shifting, amoral, egotistical prick whose only interests he supported were his own

  • Michael Heath

    d.c. wilson writes:

    Everyone has a theory about why Cantor lost. Mine is pretty simple: the people of his district realized that he’s a total douchebag.

    It’s my hunch that the Republicans who voted for Rep. Cantor’s opponent are far bigger douchebags than those Republicans who voted for Rep. Cantor.

  • Ichthyic

    So, the Kochs must be upset, they can’t outright buy elections! Yet. Instead of buying votes, why don’t we just have elections auctioned on eBay? That’d be straightforward.

    yup, very straightforward.

    I actually would like to see some district political party try this! Just as an ideological stunt.

  • Ichthyic

    It’s my hunch that the Republicans who voted for Rep. Cantor’s opponent are far bigger douchebags than those Republicans who voted for Rep. Cantor.

    same people, most likely.

    what? you thought that people don’t get even MORE douchebaggy?

    The teabaggers have taught me one lesson:

    The bottom of the barrel is much lower than I had even considered in my wildest nightmares.

  • raven

    Cantor is a scummy, shape shifting, amoral, egotistical prick whose only interests he supported were his own

    How does that differ from Ted Cruz, Romney, Perry, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin, or any other GOP/Tea Bagger?

  • D. C. Sessions

    I actually would like to see some district political party try this! Just as an ideological stunt.

    Have you heard of the Iowa Straw Poll?

  • Michael Heath

    Me earlier:

    Someone needs to explain [to Rachel Maddow] that the representative opinion of the 7th district isn’t representative of Republican primary voters in that same district.

    Jordan Genso responds:

    Your point stands, but I think the counter-argument would be:

    It wasn’t his position on immigration that lost him the election, it was his inability to influence who showed up as the primary voters. He had the better position on that issue, he just failed when it came to voter-turnout.

    Granted, I don’t think that counter-argument is superior to yours, but I think it’s a disagreement where both sides can be correct.

    (Rachel did make a couple bad statements during that segment though, so I agree her analysis was idiotic even if her conclusion was defendable)

    Rachel Maddow’s conclusion, that Cantor lost because he was unpopular within his district, also defectively compared a bigger population to the population of primary voters.

    For the record, I don’t know the factors that caused Cantor to lose to a bigger wingnut. I just know that Maddow made one of the dumbest analyses I’ve ever encountered from a liberal.

  • Jordan Genso

    For the record, I don’t know the factors that caused Cantor to lose to a bigger wingnut. I just know that Maddow made one of the dumbest analyses I’ve ever encountered from a liberal.

    I don’t watch her that often anymore, but absolutely that is one of the most disappointing segments I’ve seen of hers. It does appear as though she was working backward from a conclusion she wanted to be true and trying her best to create an argument to fit that conclusion.

  • Akira MacKenzie

    Why should the Kochs boys be upset? Sure the may have lost money backing Cantor, but Brat is such a “Real Murican” he’d probably do their bidding for nothing. Brat will pay for himself.

  • dingojack

    According to the FoAW, Virginia’s 7th Congressional District voted (as of 9 June 2010)

    Republican (CANTOR) 59.2%

    Democratic (WAUGH) 34.1%

    Independent Greens (BAYNE) 6.5%

    Write in 0.2%

    In the 2014 Primary Cantor trailed Cochran, 44% to 56%. If this is indicative of the Republican’s voting intentions vis a vis the candidate on offer, in order to achieve 50%, Cantor would have had to have won over 57.8% of all non-Republican voters (to equal his 2010 vote, he’d have to win over 81.255% of the non-Republican voters).

    You seriously think Cantor was likely win that big (with non-Republicans)?.

    Dingo

  • colnago80

    Re Michael Heath @ #29

    I think that daved’s analysis @ #4 may be right on the money. I don’t know about Congressional districts in Michigan but constituent services in regions in the neighborhood of DC are very important. The Congresscritter who preceded Jim Moran in the 8th Congressional District in Virginia, Stan Parris, was notorious for poor constituent services. In fact, residents of his district who needed such services ended up going to Frank Wolf who was the Congresscritter in the adjacent 10th Congressional district for assistance. When Moran ousted him from office, Parris’s record in that regard was the pivotal factor. It should be said that the district back then was quite purple i.e. competitive. It is now deep blue and is no longer competitive.

    Cantor was also a lousy congressman; his service to his constituents was very bad. He voted against an aid bill that would have benefited his own district. He got caught being hypocritical about immigration, and immigration was a real wingnut hot button this time around.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “Only a small percentage of the district voted, and Cantor only lost by 36,000 votes out of however many millions of voter.”

    However Cantor leaves the stage via the ballot box or a pine box it can only be a good thing.

    However, his losing by 36K votes is pretty substantial. There are not millions of votes cast in ANY HOR primary. The total population of any house district is less than 800K residents. So maybe a third to half are active voters and of that number the vote in primaries rarely reaches levels about 40% in my experience.

    The TOTAL vote in the district was < 70,000.

    * Other than the guy who won.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    My bad, this:

    I’m not sure where the 36K number came from but when I found out it was incorrect I forgot to put the right number in. Cantor lost by something like 7K votes. If it had only been ONE I would have been just as happy.