A footnote to the Cantor defeat: Politics at all levels is full of stories about candidates who could not lose. But, of course, there is no such thing, though there are many reasons “few saw it coming” when these kinds of loses occur.
Sometimes it’s because polling has ended too soon to see a massive shift in voter intention. Sometimes it’s because a campaign fails to see that a major issue has the kind of salience that turns the tide. In a few cases, the candidate is so adept at surrounding himself or herself with people who won’t speak truth to power that the candidate gets blindsided. When this happens it’s easy for a candidate to ignore bad omens because the team is saying they should be ignored.
And then there are cases in which the candidate gets so big for his or her britches that they stop doing the on-the-ground work that keeps their constituents engaged and happy. And when you stop doing this kind of work day in and day out, or delegate it, you’re not in the position to hear the kind of things that tell you there is a problem.
It would appear that no one actually saw it coming in Cantor’s case. But I’ll bet someone did and that Cantor, or his team, ignored that advice. I’ll bet.