Sorry Ray, But It Wasn’t Democrats That Beat Cantor

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Ray Allen

Ray Allen

Since the stunning upset in Virginia’s 7th District on Tuesday, I’ve seen a few Facebook friends attempt to blame Democrats for Cantor’s surprise loss. As I noted on social media, I don’t believe that the statistics are there to confirm this suspicion. Now, Cantor’s chief consultant is going public blaming Democrat infiltration:

Outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) campaign manager is pinning the blame on Democrats for his shocking loss.

Longtime Cantor adviser Ray Allen, in his first interview since Cantor was stunned by little-known professor Dave Brat (R), told The Hill that he believed Cantor was a victim of meddling from Democrats who crossed over in the primary to vote against him.

“We had probably 15,000 card-carrying Democrats come into this primary. There’s just no way to anticipate something like that,” Allen tells The Hill.

What is Allen basing this off of? It has to do with turnout. 17,900 more voters chose to cast ballots in the Republican primary than did in 2012, where there was even a primary (albeit uncompetitive) for United States Senate. That would seem to give some credence to Allen’s Democrat infiltration theory, until you really start looking at the numbers.

The first problem, and it is the most glaring, is Cantor’s personal vote total. Cantor lost roughly 8,500 votes between 2012 and 2014. Regardless of any other numbers, Cantor lost enough Republican votes to erase Dave Brat’s margin of victory. That’s a red flag in and of itself.

Additionally, if Democrats drove Brat’s margin of victory, we would expect to see a few things in the data. We would expect to see increased turnout in counties and precincts where Democrats compose a higher percentage of the electorate. Unfortunately for Allen’s theory, we saw the exact opposite. As Scott Clement of the Washington Post points out:

If Democrats showed up in large numbers to vote against Cantor, turnout should have spiked highest from 2012 in Democratic-leaning areas, with Cantor seeing an especially large drop-off in support. In fact, turnout rose slightly more in counties that voted more heavily for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

Cantor’s support dropped the most in Republican strongholds like Hanover, New Kent, Goochland and Culpeper. Those same counties saw the highest turnout spike compared to the 2012 race. This points explicitly to more Republicans showing up to oust the Majority Leader.

Finally, as Sara James points out, Brat was considerably more formidable than Cantor’s 2012 primary challenger. While $200,000 is a paltry sum compared to Cantor’s millions, it was enough to run a visible and credible grassroots campaign. Add in Cantor’s team dumping millions of dollars into informing voters that he had a real challenge, and it was a recipe for disaster.

To be clear, some Democrats did show up to oust Cantor on Tuesday. The data just doesn’t show these voters representing enough of the electorate to blame them for his loss. In my personal opinion, even a single Democrat voting in a Republican nominating contest is one too many, which is why I vigorously endorse party registration in Virginia. All of that being said, Cantor’s loss came at the hands of Republicans — Democrats just padded the margins.

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  • Curt Diemer

    Democrats and Republicans have a growing distrust of big government, big business, big Chamber of Commerce. And both sides are waking up that this immigration invasion is a bigger issue than more voters for one side or the other. It’s real. The flow just turned into a deluge nobody thinks is good. Dave Brat may have hit on a message that resonates on both sides of the aisle.

  • Greg Stone

    Earth to Ray. Ray, the Cantor campaign ran ads encouraging Dems to vote for Brat. So, if your assertion is true, that means the Genius’s , the braintrust of the Cantor campaign , for which you are a member must shoulder much of the blame. Not only did you get beat but you did everything you could do to beat yourself. You blew it. Terrible job, chocked full of blunders, well done.

  • Eric McGrane

    lol Ray Allen just trying to cover his ass for being a key part of a HISTORIC failure of a campaign.

    Anyone who ever hires this clown again deserves their failure.

  • Willie Mae Washington

    Greg Stone nails it: Run TV ads telling Democrats that Dave Brat is a liberal Democrat and a Tim Kaine lapdog. That’s an EXCELLENT way to predict that Democrats are going to vote. How disconnected, tone deaf, or utterly stupid do you have to be. Does he still get paid???