No, I didn’t see it coming.

We didn’t even plan on live coverage of VA-07, instead focusing on whether Lindsey Graham would avoid a runoff (he did).

At some point I started seeing tweets of early VA-07 numbers and thought someone was trolling.  Then I checked and it was no joke.

The night of, but particularly the day after, there is much fine punditry as to why Cantor lost.  And much political spin.

Looking back, with the complete benefit of hindsight, it seems that something changed along the way for Cantor.  I can’t put a precise date on it, but looking back on our posts about Cantor, I’d put the change sometime in late 2011, after Republicans gained control of the House, Cantor became Majority Leader, and he set his sights on even higher positions of power.

Until then, our posts reflect Cantor as a tough fighter, the “bad cop” to John Boehner’s “good cop” in fighting Obamacare and the Democratic agenda.   Cantor was the guy designated to take on Obama directly in the final weeks prior to Obamacare being signed into law:

Obama also gave House Minority Whip Eric Cantor a stern talking-to when he noticed that the Virginia Republican had stacked the more than 2,000-page bill in front of him while he griped that patients would not be able to maintain the same level of coverage under the Democrats’ plan.

Obama briefly addressed the coverage point and then turned to the stacked health care bill.

“You know, when we do props like this, you stack it up and you repeat 2,400 pages, et cetera — the truth of the matter is that health care is very complicated. And we can try to pretend that it’s not, but it is,” Obama said. “These are the kind of political things we do that prevent us from actually having a conversation.”

Note also Cantor pointing out that people will not be able to keep their doctors and coverage:

Cantor proudly earned the ire of Obama and the Democrats, and was targeted for his efforts, as this Politico headline from March 10, 2009 declared:

Politico Eric Cantor Democrats' New Villain

By July 2011, during the debt ceiling talks, Cantor still was doing a very good job as bad cop, as a NY Times article headlined:

Eric Cantor Democrats New Bogeyman NY Times

Rabbi Shuley Boteach decried The Demonization of Eric Cantor:

Attacks on Eric Cantor are gaining steam. Harry Reid called him childish. Many in the media have portrayed him as the obstinate Republican who will destroy American credit by blocking a deal on raising the debt ceiling. But for those of us who feel constantly ripped off by a government addicted to irresponsible spending, he is a hero.

In the fall of 2011, Cantor was point man against Occupy Wall Street, leading to threats to disrupt his appearances:

Damn, I loved that Eric Cantor.

Here’s what we used to write about Eric Cantor:

Then we pretty much stopped writing about him.  Not completely, but not as a focus.

When Cantor started focusing on becoming Speaker of the House and potentially even higher office, he did lose his focus on his district, as Erick Erickson points out.

But I think it was something more than that.

He started compromising that very quality people liked in him.  He became more of the D.C. insider, the power player, the mushy middler who wanted Democrats to like him by toying with amnesty.  To the extent amnesty was part of the reason Cantor lost, it was a symptom, not the disease.

When Cantor was the bad cop, he was very good.  He should have stayed with what worked.