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Cantor’s Historic House Election Defeat: By the Numbers

Eric Cantor’s historic election loss, with voters in his Virginia district unseating the second-most powerful leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, can be read in a series of odds-defying numbers.

The first is Zero: The number of times a member of Congress of Cantor’s rank had been defeated in a primary before yesterday. Since the post of House majority leader was created in 1899, its occupant had won 55 straight renomination bids, as University of Minnesota political analyst Eric Ostermeier detailed in a blog posting.

Two: Cantor, first elected to the House in 2000, became the second member of Congress in the 2014 midterm elections to be denied renomination by his own party. Texas Representative Ralph Hall, 91, was beaten in a Republican runoff last month.

Cantor isn’t the first lawmaker with a powerful post in Washington to fail at re-election at home. Tom Daschle, a former Senate Democratic leader from South Dakota, lost re-election in 2004. The late Democrat Tom Foley, then-House speaker, lost back home in Washington state in 1994.

Yet Cantor has been “primaried” —- a modern signature tactic of the limited-government Tea Party movement that has targeted and removed establishment Republicans from office.

Thirty-eight percent: The increase in voter turnout in 2014 from 2012 in the Republican primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Cantor’s polling consultant, John McLaughlin, had the majority leader ahead by more than 30 percentage points among Republicans a couple of weeks ago in his surveys. McLaughlin pointed to possible mischief by Democrats who participated in the Republican contest. Virginia law permits so-called crossover voting, with no registration by party.

There was no Democratic primary contest yesterday in the 7th District, a Republican-leaning area.

More Numbers

8,471: Cantor’s vote total plunged to an unofficial 28,898 in the 2014 primary from 37,369 in the 2012 primary, a 23 percent decrease and a difference of 8,471 votes.

$5.4 million: How much money Cantor raised for his campaign committee between Jan. 1, 2013, and May 21, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Cantor didn’t spend all that on his re-election; as a member of his party’s leadership, he helps raise money for other House Republicans. Still, the total underscores his fundraising clout and ties to the party’s donors, including on Wall Street.

Brat Outspent

$207,000: How much money David Brat, an economics professor at a college near Richmond, Virginia, raised through May 21 for his campaign to unseat Cantor.

95.07: Cantor’s lifetime score from the American Conservative Union, which rates members of Congress on key votes on a scale of zero to 100. The ACU gave Cantor a rating of 84 for his 2013 votes.

65: The number of times Brat’s single television advertisement ran on broadcast stations in the Richmond-area district, according to Kantar Media’s CMAG, an ad tracker.

Brat’s spot accused Cantor of being insufficiently committed to repealing President Barack Obama’s health-care law and opposing a rewrite of immigration laws as well as a “clean” increase in the federal borrowing limit. Brat’s positions were in line with the views of the Tea Party.

1,038: How many times Cantor’s four ads ran on broadcast television, CMAG data show. The American Chemistry Council, a Washington-based trade group, aired one pro-Cantor ad 348 times on broadcast television.

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