Paul Krugman writes in The New York Times that Cantor's defeat is a very big deal.
Movement conservatism is "unraveling before our very eyes."
Eric Cantor and the Death of a Movement
The Rovian bag of tricks has long been used by conservatives to win elections. Emotional conservative themes such as the threadbare Guns God and Gays are trotted out each election campaign only to be put away once Republicans are elected.
movement conservatism,” a term I think I learned from the historian Rick Perlstein, is something more specific: an interlocking set of institutions and alliances that won elections by stoking cultural and racial anxiety but used these victories mainly to push an elitist economic agenda, meanwhile providing a support network for political and ideological loyalists.With the defeat of Cantor, this is all changing.
By rejecting Mr. Cantor, the Republican base showed that it has gotten wise to the electoral bait and switch, and, by his fall, Mr. Cantor showed that the support network can no longer guarantee job security. For around three decades, the conservative fix was in; but no more.What does this mean for 2016? Fasten your seatbelts because the crazy can no longer be cosmetic.
Mr. Cantor’s defeat shows that lip service to extremism isn’t enough; the base needs to believe that you really mean it.The Republican party is about to go nova. The conservative movement has been feeding itself on the marketing deception that it was crazy. Now Republican candidates have to actually be divorced from reality to get elected.
In the long run — which probably begins in 2016 — this will be bad news for the G.O.P., because the party is moving right on social issues at a time when the country at large is moving left. (Think about how quickly the ground has shifted on gay marriage.) Meanwhile, however, what we’re looking at is a party that will be even more extreme, even less interested in participating in normal governance, than it has been since 2008. An ugly political scene is about to get even uglier.