Political Upsets, Media Narratives, and Local Journalism

The upset defeat of US Republican Party House Leader Eric Cantor is one of the most fascinating political stories of the past decade in the United States, the first time a sitting House Leader has been defeated in a primary. It’s all the more surprising to fly-over observers of politics because Cantor had a 40-to-1 spending advantage against his challenger.

As a student of political studies, I find many aspects of the Cantor defeat of interest.

As a journalist, I’m trying to learn the lessons from this story to understand how the journalism establishment was caught by complete surprise.

The Columbia Journalism Review‘s take The revolution will be localized notes one of the blind spots that happens to journalists embedded at the end of governance – we can view politics from the seat of government, lacking local connections to see grassroots movements that can overcome the power of incumbency and power.

The Cantor defeat is a good reminder for my trade of the need to follow and respect local grassroots reporting.

Outside money and endorsements are extremely important in politics. There are a good

For those looking to upset the political establishment – cough, cough Council challengers – take note of how the Tea Party invests in training its members and having a long-term strategy to take hold of the Republican Party.

I look forward to academic case studies of the Cantor race, it’s definitely a reminder that conventional wisdom is always changing in politics and there norms are temporary illusions.