Why Cantor Defeat Means GOP Should Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform Now
It isn’t often that I give advice that I think is good for the Republican Party. But there is little question that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat should serve as a warning to the GOP. If they don’t pass comprehensive immigration reform soon, there is more trouble ahead for the party.
72% of voters in Cantor’s district support the bipartisan immigration reform legislation on the table in Washington right now to only 23% who are opposed. And this is an issue voters want to see action on. 84% think it’s important for the US to fix its immigration system this year, including 57% who say it’s ‘very’ important. Even among Republicans 58% say it’s ‘very’ important, suggesting that some of the backlash against Cantor could be for a lack of action on the issue.
As if the political drama were not powerful enough, chaos erupted at election night headquarters shortly after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor conceded his stunning defeat to tea party-backed conservative David Brat.
Cantor addressed his supporters for about four minutes at a suburban Richmond hotel ballroom, then boarded an SUV without taking questions from reporters scurrying after him.
Then it got really rambunctious. In the room of downcast Cantor allies, a new energy suddenly erupted — but not the kind they wanted on election night. A group of immigration activists stormed the ballroom, screaming and waving a flag. “What do we want? Immigration reform! When do we want it? Now!”
Cantor has a only a 30% approval rating in his district, with 63% of voters disapproving. The Republican leadership in the House is even more unpopular, with just 26% of voters approving of it to 67% who disapprove. Among GOP voters Cantor’s approval is a 43/49 spread and the House leadership’s is 41/50. Those approval numbers track pretty closely with Cantor’s share of the vote last night.
But none of that will stop the extremist wing of the Republican Party from using immigration to mobilize a vocal minority to attack GOP leaders, drive the Party to the right, alienate the party from most Hispanics and the moderate voters who don’t want to be associated with hatred and bigotry – and the views of most Americans.