A year ago, it was nearly unthinkable that Eric Cantor would not be returning for his eighth term as the representative from Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. His primary defeat in June sent shockwaves through the halls of Congress and, as Election Day nears, it’s worth recalling the former majority leader’s fate.
Initially, some thought that Cantor’s stance on immigration reform was the cause of his undoing, but polling data did not bear this out. A more likely cause was the perception that he had spent too much time in Washington and lost touch with his constituents back home. In a piece for U.S. News & World Report, GOP strategist Ford O’Connell wrote that Cantor “walked the halls of power instead of the streets of his suburban Richmond district.”
Looking back, the biggest surprise of that election wasn’t the downfall of a senior leader in Congress, as much as the fact that this doesn’t actually happen more often. Study after study shows approval ratings for Congress at an all-time low.