Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Graham vs. Cantor -- The Tea Party Influence

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor just lost his seat in a GOP primary the first seating House leader to lose his seat in a primary, ever.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
Faced Major Upset, lost primary
Further south, embattled Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham coasted to victory in the June 10 primary, taking in 59% of the vote, thus avoiding a run-off and assuring his reelection in November.

Tea Party activists had targeted both Republicans because of their support for amnesty, but Graham survived while Cantor dived.


Cantor was too much into Washington leadership politics. He paid close attention to K Street, not VA-7's Main Street and attending problems.

Local conservatives in the Richmond, Virginia area complained that the Cantor campaign all but snubbed them.

Lindsey Graham
In contrast, US Senator Lindsey Graham, who has no meaningful leadership role in the US Senate, pays attention to his constituents and gets things done for them. They gladly repaid him the favor  for his services and reelected him.

Regarding the Tea Party opposition in both races. . .

Eric Cantor faced one primary challenger, and he underestimated him a little too much.

Graham had six primary challengers, so that conservative opponents and critics could not unify behind one candidate. Of course, Graham's $12 million war chest helped him a great deal to send a strong message throughout the state.

Compare this US Senate primary challenge with Mississippi, and one finds that incumbent Thad Cochran is stumbling more like Cantor. Cochran did not raise nearly enough money. He has rarely visited let alone reached out to his constituents, and Chris McDaniel is a strong dedicated opponent, as opposed to one of many in a splintered opposition, like the weak backlash against Graham.

Once again, when the Tea Party Movement, like an political activist group, unifies behind one candidate and stays on message, they can unseat unsavory incumbents.

Thad Cochran vs. Chris McDaniel
Jodi Ernst's success in the Iowa US Senate primary demonstrates this clearly, too, since both Establishment as well as Tea Party groups lined up behind her campaign. She is now polling nine points ahead of her Democratic challenger, who has already insulted Iowa farmers and looks poised to lose Democrat Tom Harkin's seat this November.

Lessons for insurgent conservatives:

1. Unify behind one candidate.

2. Coordinate finances and outreach

3. Pay attention to an incumbent's relationship with voters at home vs. his allegiance to Washington abroad. This dichotomy will determine whether the incumbent has a strong change of retaining or losing his seat.


  1. I sent out this tweet last night:

    #VA7 voters #MadeDCListen decided "We Can't Stand @EricCantor" @GOPLeader must focus on constitution, education, and jobs - not amnesty

  2. Teabaggers eat their own. Hilarious faux "movement".