Over-reaction is becoming so common on the political scene these days, things have to go pretty far before they qualify as genuinely surprising over-reaction. But the furor over last week’s primary defeat of Eric Cantor definitely qualifies.
To put it in perspective, Cantor lost by 36,000 votes, which is about 5% of his voting-eligible constituents, which is about .002% of the 150 million eligible voters in the country. But that didn’t stop pundits from gasping in shock and declaring that this was a political game-changer, with miscalculation like “Dewey Defeats Truman” combined with Real Housewives-style national fascination. (Not to mention the fun of seeing Cantor’s opponent, an economics professor who advocates something called “Christian Capitalism,” unable to answer basic questions about the minimum wage…but I digress.)
This one low-turnout race has apparently led to everything from a resurgence of the Tea Party, to the end of any hope for immigration reform, to the realization that Democrats should just give up on 2014 unless turnout is boosted by major hurricanes in November that have female names (which apparently are viewed as less scary, so people don’t evacuate as quickly). Hello, people — it’s only one tiny district!
On the other hand, there is a Through the Looking Glass-surreal quality about one of the most obstructionist right-wing Majority Leaders in history losing a primary for being too liberal. So who knows, maybe the over-reactors are on to something…