David Wasserman went there.
From a post-election New York Times story:
David Wasserman, a House political analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said another, more local factor has to be acknowledged: Mr. Cantor, who dreamed of becoming the first Jewish speaker of the House, was culturally out of step with a redrawn district that was more rural, more gun-oriented and more conservative.
“Part of this plays into his religion,” Mr. Wasserman said. “You can’t ignore the elephant in the room.”
My first reaction to reading this was — yes, it’s true that there will now be more Jews in the Iranian parliament (1) than Jewish Republicans in Congress (0), but hold your horses.
1) Cantor is hardly the first establishment GOP lawmaker to go down at the hands of a Tea Party-minded challenger hammering away on immigration, federal spending and the general out-of-touchness of Washington elites. And those others deposed Republican incumbents weren’t Members of the Tribe. So this isn’t a case where there’s a purge that conveniently begins and ends with the only Jew in the room.
2) It was a Jewish, conservative radio talk show – Mark Levin – who helped lead the charge against Cantor.
The Times followed up with a second-day story giving the Jewish issue the full treatment:
The answer to [whether people voted against Cantor because of his Jewishness], political analysts and Jewish leaders in Richmond say, is no: Mr. Cantor, who resigned as House majority leader on Wednesday, effective July 31, was toppled because voters saw him as out of touch. Mr. Cantor appeared to give a nod to the religion issue on Wednesday, when he opened a news conference by saying that “growing up in the Jewish faith” he had “read a lot in the Old Testament, and you learn about setbacks.”
But analysts do say that Mr. Brat — who has a divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and often invokes God in his speeches — appeals to Christian conservatives in a way that Mr. Cantor simply cannot.
The Forward’s J.J. Goldberg hit upon the same theme, arguing that it isn’t anti-Jewish for traditional-minded Christian voters to feel more comfortable with a candidate who reflects their religious values:
Right now, the main point is that one can be pro-Christian without being anti-Jewish. Practically speaking, Jews feel threatened by a political movement that seeks to put religion — the majority religion, which isn’t ours — at the center of the nation’s public life. It’s exclusionary. It arguably violates the Constitution, which says (Article VI) that there may not be any “religious test” for public office. The Christian right is all about judging candidates for office by their religion — by which they mean the values that the …read more