Cantor's Defeat: Polls and Spin

Eric Cantor’s primary defeat sent shock waves throughout the political world, particularly within the Beltway establishment. The establishment of both political parties did not see this coming. The DC media were similarly shocked, yet those of us of outside the Beltway Bubble knew that an election result like this was inevitable and really not such a surprise. Not necessarily this particular election, but one like it where a fed-up electorate voted a tone-deaf Republican into retirement.

By the next morning, the political spin had begun. Politico led the analysis with the headline, “Poll: Immigration didn’t doom Eric Cantor.” Oh really? The outside-the-Beltway media, such as Breitbart, differed in their assessment. What about the voters? Perhaps a closer look at this “poll” is in order.

Was this a poll designed to reflect public opinion or to shape it? Plenty of ObamaCare polls, with crafty wording and dubious interpretation, give a false impression of the law’s favorability, when an honest poll would reflect a far different result. Reuters, ABC News, and the Washington Post can attest to this based on some of their recent polling.

Politico cited a poll by the liberal Public Policy Polling firm commissioned by Americans United for Change, a liberal advocacy group. That sentence alone predicts the poll results. They found that, “72 percent of registered voters in Cantor’s district polled on Tuesday said they either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ support immigration reform.” What does “immigration reform” mean in this poll? Did the voters electing Dave Brat share Eric Cantor’s views on immigration? Or is the reform they desire something novel like actually enforcing existing immigration laws?

Inside the Beltway, the phrase “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, embraced by John McCain and Lindsay Graham in the Senate (remember the Gang of Eight?) and John Boehner and Eric Cantor in the House, actually means amnesty. The website euphemistically calls this, “a pathway to citizenship” but in reality it is nothing but amnesty. Is this the “immigration reform” that 72 percent of Cantor’s constituents favor?

Yet the poll cited by Politico defined “immigration reform” quite differently. The poll’s definition of reform included securing the border, blocking employees from hiring illegal workers, and allowing illegal residents without criminal records to go through a lawful immigration process. Not amnesty. Not the Justice Department sending taxpayer funded lawyers to the border to provide, “Legal representation for illegal immigrant children.”

Would Cantor have lost the election if his position was that of the poll and didn’t include a “pathway to citizenship”? Doubtful. But the media spin is that immigration had nothing to do with this upset election. The Gang of Eight should not be deterred. Move the DREAM Act forward through Congress. Establishment Republicans can read Politico and tell themselves that the majority of Americans also want “comprehensive immigration reform.” Or believe the NY Times that Cantor’s “somewhat more moderate stance” on immigration may not have been an important factor in his defeat.

Yet the results speak for themselves. The House Majority Leader was ousted in a primary election. By an unknown college professor running on a traditionally Republican platform.

Was this only about immigration? No. It was a fed-up electorate reminding Congress who works for whom. It was about out-of-control government spending and an unsustainable national debt. It was about a government that has no regard for the people it represents, serving not the people, but instead political cronies and campaign donors. And it was about regulations choking everyone just trying to earn a buck and live their life in peace. And about an imperial administration that has no regard for laws or the Constitution. Or about an ongoing assault on our morals and values. And yes, it was about a flagrant disregard for our national sovereignty and borders. All for cheap labor for one political party, and a permanent electoral majority for the other party.

Will anyone inside the Beltway hear that “we the people” aren’t pleased with the job they are doing? Will they change course or double down? Will they listen to the voters or to the chattering classes and their dodgy polls? The midterm elections will be our chance to remind politicians who they actually work for. Eric Cantor learned that lesson Tuesday night.

Dr. Joondeph is a retina surgeon at Colorado Retina Associates and serves on the faculty of Rocky Vista University School of Medicine. The views expressed here are purely his own, and not those of Rocky Vista University.Twitter @retinaldoctor.