House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's shocking defeat in Virginia's Republican primary by tea party-backed challenger Dave Brat was an "angry" vote from a restive GOP electorate that is likely to rattle coming races as well, analysts said Tuesday night.
"The Republican electorate is angry," Democratic pollster and analyst Doug Schoen told Newsmax. "They are angry at the establishment. Eric Cantor represents inside Washington — and this is a repudiation of the Republican leadership strata.
"It's a warning sign for [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell," he said.
"There's just a sense that they want the establishment out," Schoen said. "It's a rejection of everything the Republicans stand for."
Brat, an economics professor with no political experience, was "basically running against Washington and against the establishment," Schoen added.
Specifically, he said, Brat's victory sends a chilling message to the GOP leadership.
"[I]t's also a shot across the bow at [House Speaker] John Boehner," Schoen said. "The Republican electorate wants change. It's certainly a warning sign in that direction."
L. Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica, hailed Brat's victory.
"Eric Cantor's loss tonight is an apocalyptic moment for the GOP establishment," he said, The Washington Post
reported. "The grassroots is in revolt and marching."
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said Cantor's loss will have major implications for immigration reform, an issue that Cantor became linked to.
"Everybody agrees that if immigration reform was on life support before, they're pulling out the plugs" because no other House Republican will want to end up like Cantor, he said.
"The Republican electorate has become very conservative, and that was demonstrated in conventions like last year" and occasionally in primaries, he added. "What Republicans don't seem to want to come to terms with is that Virginia is a purple state."
Fox News Political Editor Chris Stirewalt said Brat's election means comprehensive immigration reform is "dead meat."
His colleague, Fox News Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume, said the conventional GOP
wisdom in Washington is that Brat's victory is bad news long-term for Republicans and good news for Democrats. It will kill immigration reform, the conventional wisdom goes, which will make it difficult for a Republican to be elected in 2016 as president.
Hume said he isn't sure he agrees with the conventional wisdom.
The vote shows the GOP cannot ignore the tea party, Hume said. The establishment wing will have to make peace with the tea party, he said, if it hopes to survive past November's midterm elections.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham fared better in his own primary because he saw the tea party challenge coming and had a positive message, Stirewalt said. Graham decided to make peace with the tea party while Cantor decided to go on the attack.
Some of Cantor's attack ads aimed at Brat were of "questionable veracity," Stirewalt said.
Former Minnesota U.S. Rep. Vin Weber called Cantor's loss "an earthquake."
"No one thought he'd lose," Weber told The Post about his friend's defeat.
The theme of this election was supposed to be the death of the tea party and the revenge of the establishment, American Enterprise Institute fellow and ex-George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen told Fox News.
"The tea party is alive and kicking," Thiessen said.
Virginia Republican strategist Chris LaCivita told The Post that Cantor's defeat reflected an irony of his success at raising money for the GOP cause.
"He spent days, weeks and months traveling the country, raising money to add to the Republican majority," he said. "What can be attributed to Eric in doing so is unquestionable. Unfortunately, it had a price."
political editor Mark Preston said Cantor's defeat was nothing less than stunning.
"This came out of nowhere," he said, adding that it is likely to have national implications, given the prevailing view that Cantor was a potential House speaker had he returned to Washington.
The National Journal
found little historical precedent for a majority leader's losing a primary.
In 1994, Tom Foley became the first House speaker in more than a century to be defeated for re-election when he lost the general election during that year's Republican wave. His predecessor was Speaker Galusha Grow, a Republican who lost his seat during the Civil War, the Journal noted.
In the upper chamber, one-time Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle is the only party leader in recent history to lose an election, in 2004.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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