Over-Reaction to Eric Cantor’s Electoral Defeat?

The big U.S. political news this week was the defeat of Eric Cantor in Tuesday’s Republican primary in his U.S. House district in Virginia. Pundits and politicians say it means increased power for Tea Party/Republicans. The Republican Party will become more conservative and even less willing to negotiate with President Obama and congressional Democrats. Etc. Etc.

I have not read all of the newspaper articles about this election and have no desire to do so. But I was surprised by a column by New York Times’ columnist Charles Blow that emphasized the very small size of the vote in this election. Here are the key facts:

 

District population 760,000
Total votes in District: 2012 general election 381,000
Total votes in District: 2012 GOP primary   47,719
Total votes in District: 2014 GOP primary   65,008
Total votes in District: 2014 GOP primary– David Brat   36,110
Total votes in District: 2014 GOP primary– Eric Cantor   28,898

Ezra Klein of the Vox Conversations website believes that Cantor lost because of the low turnout in this week’s primary; Cantor failed to get his supporters to the polls.   Philip Bump in the Washington Post disagrees; he asserts that the GOP primary turnout in 2014 was larger than in 2012 and that the increased turnout was to vote against Cantor.

I am sure there are other interpretations of the result of this primary election, and I certainly am not able to wade in with my own opinion on the subject. Nor do I want to.

I merely point out that only 7,212 (36,110-28,898) more people voted for Brat than for Cantor. Are the many grandiose interpretations of this election merely over-reactions?