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'Stunning': Reactions To Eric Cantor's Election Loss In Virginia

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, and Dave Brat react after the polls closed Tuesday. Brat defeated Cantor in the Republican primary, a result that shocked many political analysts.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, and Dave Brat react after the polls closed Tuesday. Brat defeated Cantor in the Republican primary, a result that shocked many political analysts.

"Dollars don't vote — you do." And with that statement to his supporters, college professor Dave Brat ousted seven-term Rep. Eric Cantor in their primary battle Tuesday night. The loss by the No. 2 House Republican shocked many political analysts and the congressman himself.

"It's disappointing, sure," Cantor told supporters after the results came in. "But I believe in this country. I believe there's opportunity around the next corner for all of us."

Few saw the historic collapse coming, although the final tally shows Brat won handily, with 56 percent of the vote to Cantor's 44 percent. Here's a roundup of reactions and details:

Surprising Upset

  • "This is one of the most stunning upsets in modern American political history," Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia tells the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "This is the base rebelling against the GOP leadership in Washington as represented by Eric Cantor." He added, "I'm as stunned as anybody."
  • From the National Journal: " 'It should frighten everyone in leadership,' one conservative House Republican, who exchanged text messages on condition of anonymity, said shortly after Cantor's defeat was official. 'They haven't been conservative enough. We've told them that for 3 years. They wouldn't listen.' The GOP lawmaker added: 'Maybe they will listen now.' "
  • Steak And Coffee

  • "OpenSecrets' breakdown of Eric Cantor's campaign spending reveals that it spent $168,000 on steakhouses. His opponent only spent $200,000 in total." — Vox
  • "The prospect of a loss seemed to have gone uncontemplated in the Cantor camp. The majority leader spent Tuesday morning at a monthly meeting with large donors and lobbyists at a Capitol Hill Starbucks, helping raise money for three junior lawmakers. Cantor assured the group that he had spent heavily on his race — more than $1 million since April — to ensure victory by a large margin and to show no 'sign of weakness,' according to one attendee." — The Washington Post
  • Money And Polls

  • "According to the last campaign finance report, Cantor had raised nearly $5.5 million, of which he spent over $5 million. In contrast, Brat, who had spent $122,000, had raised a total of $206,663. Brat also missed out on the support of outside groups after flaking on meetings with influential Washington conservatives whose support he was hoping to enlist." — The Daily Beast
  • "Until the very end, though, Cantor appeared likely to hold on. According to Nate Silver, his internal polling showed him ahead by more than twenty points. A poll carried out on June 2nd by the Daily Caller did indicate that the race was narrowing somewhat, but even that poll showed Brat trailing Cantor by twelve points, forty per cent to fifty-two per cent." – The New Yorker
  • What's Next

  • "Two professors at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., find themselves in an unexpected position after Tuesday's primary elections: Facing each other in November for a seat in Congress." — NPR's L. Carol Ritchie, referring to Brat and Democrat Jack Trammell.
  • "Mr. Cantor can't run as a third-party candidate. Virginia law forbids candidates who lose primary elections from appearing on the general election ballot. It is not immediately clear if he will mount a write-in campaign , as did Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) after losing a 2010 GOP Senate primary." — The Wall Street Journal
  • Fallout In Congress

  • From House Speaker John Boehner, via Roll Call: "Eric Cantor and I have been through a lot together. He's a good friend and a great leader, and someone I've come to rely upon on a daily basis as we make the tough choices that come with governing. My thoughts are with him and Diana and their kids tonight."
  • "Soon after Cantor conceded, questions also began to arise about what the result means for Boehner's future as Speaker. The conventional wisdom is that Boehner has been strengthened by Cantor's defeat, as his strongest potential challenger for the Speaker's gavel has been removed." – Fox News
  • Tea Party And Immigration

  • "Many will say Cantor lost to the Tea Party, however they define or understand that boisterous-if-amorphous entity. But Cantor lost because he lost touch with his district. Yes, he risked an uprising on his right specifically by saying conciliatory things about an immigration bill and about finding ways to broaden the base of the party among working-class voters — including minorities. But the reason opponents could redefine him in the eyes of his own folks back home was that he had too often taken those folks for granted." — NPR's Ron Elving
  • "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 — three key tenets of an overhaul, according to a poll by the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change." — Politico
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    Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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