By now you’ve all probably heard that Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, lost what should have been a cakewalk of a primary last night. He outspent his opponent, a Tea Party candidate named Dave Brat, by forty to one, and he still lost. Even better: The Tea Party guy will now go on to face Jack Trammell, the Democratic nominee, in the general election in November — and Trammell may well stand a chance.
Why do I say this? Well…
There is evidence that Ben “Cooter” Jones’ efforts to get Virginia Democrats to cross over for Brat may have worked very well, indeed. If you compare the election results with a map of the Seventh Congressional District of Virginia, you’ll notice that the most conservative areas — the areas with the fewest Democrats — voted for Cantor, but as you look at the counties surrounding the City of Richmond (a city of which Cantor only has a teeny-tiny chunk in his CD, as it has far too many Democrats — ironically enough, that chunk was one of the few places he won tonight), you’ll see that Brat took those counties, often by wide margins.
Note, also, the very small overall vote totals. Only 65,008 voted in the Republican primary today, and Brat’s victory was with a margin of around 7300 votes. I can well imagine at least 7300 Democrats in Henrico, Hanover, Goochland, New Kent and Chesterfield Counties being sufficiently motivated to punish Cantor and avenge his defeat of Cooter Jones back in 2002. (Quick correction: While the vote totals are still only around 15% of the voting-age population — the total number of residents of any age being 757,917 as of 2010 — it turns out they’re considerably higher than the 47,037 of 2012 — but Cantor ran against a much weaker foe, AND there wasn’t a groundswell for Democratic voters to cross over for Cantor’s primary foe as there was this year.)
Will Cantor’s base rally around Brat sufficiently to sweep him to power? Will a number of them just do what they obviously did tonight, and stay home — except this time out of disgust as opposed to hubris? Will a number of them decide to vote for Trammell instead come November?