Chris Cannon Defeats John Jacob

Last night, John Jacob was defeated by Chris Cannon. Cannon took 55.8% of the vote and Jacob pulled 44.2%. Combine the very low turnout with the final two polls that had Cannon up 49-42 and Jacob up 45-44 and I have to say that I’m a little surprised that Jacob didn’t do better. My expectation was that even if he lost, it would be a closer race, with at least 47% of the vote or higher going to Jacob.

In the end, I think Jacob was just overwhelmed. The 44.2% of the vote he got was primarily based on his tough opposition to illegal immigration. On the other hand, although Cannon was handicapped by his support of the comprehensive bill in the Senate, he was also a 5-time incumbent, running against a political novice who made some significant mistakes and got stung by a couple of mini-scandals that sounded bad, even if there didn’t seem to be much substance to them. Furthermore, Cannon had more money, a solid conservative record on almost everything but immigration, his brother runs the Republican Party in Utah, and he even got an endorsement from George Bush — which was probably the biggest factor in his favor. Even though George Bush’s approval rating is low right now, an endorsement from the President in a Republican primary, in a very conservative district, is an enormous asset.

It would be great to sit here and tell you that this was a moral victory since Cannon had everything breaking his way except the illegal immigration issue and Jacob still got 44% of the vote, but moral victories in politics are almost always a cop-out. Either your guy wins or he loses and there’s no in-between. When you come up on the losing end, all you can do is stand up, brush yourself off, and keep going.

As far as Chris Cannon goes, I would wish him luck in beating his Democratic Candidate in November, but you really don’t need luck if you’re the Republican candidate in a district where Bush beat Kerry 77% to 20% in 2004. Cannon will do a good job on everything but illegal immigration in Congress and if we get lucky, maybe this election will scare him a little bit, and he’ll take a few steps to the right on the issue. We’ll see.

Update #1: There is already some “what does this mean for the illegal immigration debate talk” going on. Does Cannon’s victory mean the President’s plan is really more popular than people thought? No offense to John Jacob, because I did prefer him as a candidate, but from what I’ve seen of the race, if he’d have had exactly the same position as Cannon on illegal immigration, he’d have been lucky to get into double digits at the polls.

In Chris Cannon, you basically had a candidate who the voters in the primary found acceptable in almost every way, except for his position on illegal immigration. Yet, that was such a big deal that 44% of the voters were willing to defect to another candidate because of that one issue. That suggests to me that, at least for this election cycle, being for the Senate’s immigration plan could be just as deadly for a Republican as being pro-abortion or pro-gun control. In Cannon’s case, because he had every other advantage leaning heavily in his favor, he made it through the primary. But, other Republicans who support the Senate Amnesty bill and have to face stronger opponents in November, may not be so lucky.

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