Virginia Shocker Shows Money Not Always 'The Name of the Game,' Says UK Political Scientist

Jun 11, 2014


A stunning loss for a congressional leader with years of experience and a cash-filled war chest may not signal disappointment with long time incumbency.   So says Steve Voss, political scientist at the University of Kentucky.

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was ousted by Tea Party-backed candidate David Brat in the Virginia primary.  Voss doesn't think the Virginia outcome sheds any light on how the current race in Kentucky between longtime Washington veteran Mitch McConnell and challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes may fare.  "I would view the defeat of this leader of his party in his primary as more an outgrowth of that diminishing room to maneuver that republicans have and not a generic scorn for leaders,"  said Voss.

Cantor's campaign outspent college professor David Brat by millions.  Voss says campaign funds will not make or break the senate race between Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes.  "People are watching how much money Grimes is getting versus how much money McConnell is getting as though that's gonna make much of a difference in this campaign, but both candidates have way too much cash for the money game to really be the dominant factor anymore," added Voss.

Voss says the immigration issue could become a more vocal matter in the U.S. Senate race.  Differing positions on immigration are being cited as one possible reason for the Tea Party victory yesterday.   Voss says Kentucky doesn't have the immigrant numbers found in many other states, but it could still sway voter sentiments locally. "You can't tell whether a place like this will react to that sort of issue and if you get a policy entrepreneur like the fellow who pulled the upset in Virginia here, who tries to get leverage out of an issue like immigration, they might well succeed," said Voss.

Voss says it hard to predict if the McConnell-Lundergan Grimes race will stay neck and neck into the fall.