The consensus political opinion today is that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suffered a shocking loss in his Republican primary Tuesday in large part because his opponent painted him as a friend of "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.
Then again, the consensus view a few days earlier was that Cantor could not lose against his underfunded, no-name opponent.
As Bloomberg’s Ramesh Ponnuru aptly wrote after the upset, "I’m not going to trust anyone who makes a confident pronouncement about what this election means unless he saw this result coming."
Still, perception in politics is often as powerful as opaque reality. And it’s apparent that any immigration overhaul has suffered a setback by Cantor’s defeat -- even if the votes against him had as much to do with a repudiation of the GOP establishment and a feeling that he’d lost touch with his district.
Even before Cantor’s loss, political observers had been saying that immigration reform would probably have to occur this summer if it was going to happen in the next few years, meaning at least beyond the 2016 presidential election. Now even that slender window of opportunity may have been lost.
If so, it’s a terrible indictment of Washington politics.
After all, polls consistently show that most Americans favor a major overhaul of immigration law that includes a way for undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S., with certain qualifications.
Even most Republicans tell pollsters they favor normalization of immigrants’ status as opposed to deporting them. To be clear, however, most Republicans oppose a path to citizenship that is open to most immigrants here illegally.
Still, since the 2012 election, a growing number of Republicans have appeared open to compromise on immigration, understanding that settling the issue is important to the party’s future.
Now that momentum, to the nation’s detriment, appears to have stalled.
~The Denver Post