Here is one solution to America's student-debt problem: Hire more recent college graduates as campaign pollsters. They can't do any worse than longtime Republican poll-whiz John McLaughlin.
McLaughlin's firm is the one that famously forecast a 34-percentage-point win by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in advance of his GOP reelection primary last night. Cantor ended up getting smashed by 10 points, losing to an Ayn Rand-loving economist with tea party backing.
In an email to National Journal, McLaughlin, whose firm has been paid nearly $75,000 by Cantor's campaign since 2013, offered several explanations: unexpectedly high turnout, last-minute Democratic meddling, and stinging late attacks on amnesty and immigration.
"Primary turnout was 45,000 2 years ago," McLaughlin wrote. "This time 65,000. This was an almost 50% increase in turnout."
Translation: McLaughlin's estimate of who was a "likely Republican" voter was way, way off the mark. But Cantor's total number of votes still shrunk, even as the total number of primary voters went up dramatically in 2014. He secured 37,369 primary votes in 2012 and less than 29,000 this year, with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
McLaughlin, like the rest of the Beltway media who did not see this coming, is now casting about for answers as to how one of Washington's ostensibly most-powerful Republicans was not beloved by his constituents. Since the May poll, Cantor was painted as weak on immigration (if by weak on immigration you mean that he hasn't come out in favor of torturing immigrants before ejecting them from America). McLaughlin also insists that the primary results were skewed by left-leaning spoilers:
"Untold story," McLaughlin continued, "is who were the new primary voters? They were probably not Republicans."
This is not McLaughlin's first time being really, really bad at the one job he has to do. In 2012, he predicted Senate wins by silver-spooner George Allen and Richard "Rape Pregnancy Is a Gift From God" Mourdock, both of whom got thoroughly humbled at the polls. He also forecast big wins in Colorado and Virginia for Mitt Romney, both of which went for Obama by about 10 more points than McLaughlin expected.
In the meantime, the Beltway media are now spinning Cantor's loss as a devastating message to Republicans, who'll have to keep tacking right to stave off tea partiers, even though the patriots had whiffed in every primary leading up to Cantor's, and Tuesday's other race was a decisive win for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) over the Palmetto state's nutters right wing. The right of the right isn't actually winning much of note, but elected Republicans will continue to govern in Washington as if it is.
[Photo credit: AP Images]