Maybe Eric Cantor Didn’t Lose Because of Immigration Reform After All


The conventional wisdom says that Eric Cantor lost his primary race last night because he was soft on immigration. But a PPP poll suggests that’s not really the case:

About 72 percent of registered voters in Cantor’s district polled on Tuesday said they either “strongly” or “somewhat” support immigration reform that would secure the borders, block employers from hiring those here illegally, and allow undocumented residents without criminal backgrounds to gain legal status….Looking just at Republicans in Cantor’s district, the poll found that 70 percent of GOP registered voters would support such a plan, while 27 percent would oppose.

Now, “registered voters” is not the same thing as “people who actually bothered to vote in a primary.” And things like question wording can have an outsized impact on questions like this.

Still, even after months of anti-immigration blathering from talking heads, it still probably wasn’t a big deal to more than about half the primary voters in Cantor’s district. And despite the demagoguery from these talking heads, it’s not as if Cantor was really all that soft on immigration. The worst you could honestly say about him on the subject is that he occasionally made a few noises suggesting that maybe a deal could be had if only Democrats would be reasonable. This is boilerplate stuff for Republican leaders, and we all know what it means: no deal is possible and it’s all the fault of the Democrats.

In any case, there are a zillion theories about why Cantor really lost, and I’m not taking sides. But at the very least, immigration appears to be less of a factor than it seems on the surface.

Not that it matters. Immigration reform has been dead for months, and now it’s still dead. Nothing has changed.

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