|By Michael Barone; Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst|
It's not often that something almost universally unexpected happens in American politics. Frequent public opinion polls and a variety of political media usually give political junkies a good idea of what to expect next.
But not Tuesday, when House Majority Leader
Cantor raised more than
It's tempting to classify this as a victory for the
But those are not the main lessons of this astonishing upset. One of those lessons is very old, an eternal maxim of politics. Another is familiar, a variation on a theme heard before. The third is relatively new, and perhaps points to a winning campaign theme for Republicans -- or their opponents.
The old lesson is: Show up. Voters like to see their elected representatives, even when they have ascended the ranks of committee and leadership positions in
But Cantor didn't do that much, and it was a problem for him
Cantor had been flying around the country raising money and campaigning for Republicans. Cochran, in his 36th year in the
Cantor should have known he was in trouble when he was booed at the Republican convention in
The second lesson of Cantor's defeat is that immigration can still be a cutting issue, depending on the circumstances. Brat zeroed in on Cantor's recent support of measures for legalization of those brought over illegally when they were children.
This has been the most popular of the versions of legalization or amnesty, since the beneficiaries seemed sympathetic and not guilty of knowingly violating the law (hey, they were just little kids).
However, in recent months there has been a flood -- highly visible in television stories -- of teenagers from
Many polls show majorities, even of Republicans, favoring some form of legalization. Support may have increased since net migration from
But the apparent threat of a wave of amnesty-motivated, low- skill workers coming into a nation with lingering long-term unemployment changes the political balance away from legalization. Cantor's defeat puts the kibosh on any legalization bills this year and probably indefinitely, if Republicans hold the House.