Lessons from Eric Cantor's defeat — and maybe for Arkansas, too | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lessons from Eric Cantor's defeat — and maybe for Arkansas, too

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 7:06 AM

click to enlarge ERIC CANTOR: His defeat has some application in Arkansas.
  • ERIC CANTOR: His defeat has some application in Arkansas.
Ezra Klein at Vox rattled off a handy list of 11 lessons to be learned from Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's defeat in Virginia last night. It's a smart list and seems to have some applications in Arkansas.

For example:

"Republicans" are not the same as "Republican primary voters." In 2012, Eric Cantor won the general election with more than 220,000 votes. Tonight, Brat beat him with about 36,000 votes. It's possible and even likely that the vast majority of Republicans in Virginia's 7th District liked Cantor just fine. But primaries only count the people who come out to vote.

In Arkansas, "Republicans" are not the same as the conservative-leaning electorate that will decide the general election. Is Arkansas ready to elect a pure Tea Party candidate in the general election? In select legislative districts, maybe. In a statewide election? I don't think so. That, I think, is why Asa Hutchinson is performing better than Tom Cotton in polling. Cotton is nothing if not true to his extremist views. Hutchinson is just about as extreme but managed to finesse it to preserve his general election appeal, even in a primary with some wackjobs.

The Republican Party has a serious data problem. In 2012, Mitt Romney's internal polls were garbage. This year, Eric Cantor's internal polls showed him up by more than 30 points. Something is deeply wrong with the GOP's campaign infrastructure if the party's presidential nominee and the party's House majority leader can't rely on their pollsters.

Remember the Arkansas Republican polling that said they'd have 60-plus seats in the House in 2012 and an even bigger margin than they won in the Senate? This is why I take all internal Republican polling with even more salt than you should apply to ALL internal polling. Is the Cotton internal poll showing him with a commanding lead really right and ALL the other nonpartisan polling wrong? I doubt it.

Some on the left are envious of the Tea Party's success at cowing Republicans. "The Left endorsed Cuomo; the Right successfully primaried the sitting House Majority Leader = how the country keeps moving to the right," tweeted Max Berger. Others voiced similar sentiments. But this isn't how the country keeps moving right. This is how the country keeps moving left.

This is the Republican myopia that plays out so often in Arkansas. Take Jason Rapert. Please. He may indeed be unassailable in his own district with his brush arbor fundamentalism and demonization of the "others" among us. But his hatred of Barack Obama and those who support him blinds him to the empirical absolutism of two big majority victories for the object of his ire. If his party continues to demonize immigrants, gays, poor people, minorities and liberals, it may win the Arkansas legislature but it won't win the presidency. "We the People" will cheer Madame President Clinton.

By the way, I'm not sure the anti-immigrant fervor that propelled Cantor's opponent in a whitebread district applies the same in Arkansas. Gov. Mike Beebe's disappointing unwillingness to lead on immigration is probably a good indicator that it remains the safe political road, but I don't think it's nearly so toxic to be compassionate here. See Mike Huckabee.

PS — This pollling in Cantor's district shows overwhelming support for immigration reform. But only a narrow, very motivated slice of the district voted in Republican primary. Also, voters in the district just don't like Cantor much.

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • LR speakers blast state board for double standard

    A series of speakers, beginning with Sen. Joyce Elliott, denounced what they saw as a hidden agenda favoring charter schools at the state Department of Education and asked the state Board of Education for return of local control.
    • May 12, 2016
  • Hospitality, restaurant groups oppose bathroom bill

    Add the restaurant and hospitality association to those opposed to Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's bill to keep transgender people out of public restrooms that match their gender identity.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Kenneth Starr: A comment from Betsey Wright

    Betsey Wright, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff when he was Arkansas governor, responds bitterly to a New York Times article today quoting Whitewater Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's warm words about Clinton. She can't forget the lives Starr ruined in Arkansas.
    • May 24, 2016

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.
  • The prayers of Rapert

    Sen. Jason Rapert is keeping a close eye on the Alabama Senate race.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation