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With Eric Cantor's Loss, the Republican Civil War Is About to Explode

If you don’t follow politics closely, suffice it to say that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s upset loss to a gadfly challenger in Tuesday’s GOP primary is the equivalent of a No. 16 seed beating a No. 1 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. No sitting majority leader had ever lost in a primary. And this wasn’t a buzzer-beater. Randolph-Macon College economics professor David Brat, a Tea Party activist, beat Cantor handily, 56 percent to 44 percent. Nooooooobody saw this coming.

This is a big deal on a number of levels. First, it eliminates what little chance remained that the House would pass some sort of immigration reform legislation this year. Cantor was hardly an outspoken advocate for reform. But he was a known sympathizer, which earned him the enmity of many conservatives. His loss probably also diminishes the likelihood that House Republicans will pass legislation next year, too, for reasons I’ll get to in a minute.