PREVIOUS ELECTION POLLING POINTED TO MAJORITY LEADER’S VULNERABILITY …
There’s been a lot of discussion in the wake of U.S. House majority leader Eric Cantor’s “shocking” defeat in Virginia’s seventh congressional district. Political experts remain incredulous, and the GOP has been ridiculed for its poor polling data in the race.
“This is one of the most stunning upsets in modern American political history,” veteran University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato told The Richmond Times Dispatch in the aftermath of the election.
But just how stunning was it? Were there actually signs in previous polling data that pointed to Cantor’s defeat?
In a new piece for The Huffington Post, Democratic pollster Harrison Hickman rewinds the clock two years to discuss polling done in the general election on behalf of Cantor’s Democratic opponent, Wayne Powell.
“In June 2012, Cantor’s personal popularity rating was 37 percent favorable, 27 percent neutral, 31 percent unfavorable,” he writes. “The intensity of feelings tilted to the negative side: 25 percent strongly unfavorable versus 20 percent strongly favorable. More voters wanted to replace Cantor (43 percent) than wanted to re-elect him (41 percent).”
Hickman’s polling also revealed troubling trend lines for Cantor among Republican voters.
“Bare majorities of his fellow Republicans gave him passing grades on dealing with the federal deficit, controlling government spending, or reforming Congress,” he noted. “Republicans overwhelmingly (57 percent to 22 percent) thought he was more interested in national politics than issues facing the district. Less than 50 percent believed he would do the right thing for the district when it conflicted with the national Republican agenda.”
A wave was building, in other words, just waiting for the right GOP primary candidate to catch it … and ride it to a victory that was in fact more probable than anyone previously imagined.