The Cantor loss has gone from completely unforeseeable to overdetermined in about 48 hours. But the simplest explanation is the correct one — he lost on immigration. I wrote a column about this in Politico today:
Eric Cantor wouldn’t be on the top of anyone’s list of victims of an immigration backlash. He’s not John McCain or Lindsey Graham. His offense was speaking in favor of an unspecified version of the DREAM Act and making occasional favorable sounds about more far-reaching legislation, including by signing off on those January principles.
The standard for convicting Cantor, it turns out, wasn’t guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, or preponderance of evidence. It was simple suspicion. Conservatives suspected that the House leadership wanted to pass immigration reform, no matter what it might say, and suspected that Cantor would be part of it, no matter what he might say. The message of the district’s primary voters to Cantor and to the broader political class on immigration was “We don’t trust you.”