VA-7 Memo



On June 11, 2014, one day after the Republican primary election in Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District, Basswood Research conducted a survey among those who say they voted in the June 10th congressional primary between Eric Cantor and David Brat. The survey was conducted by live professional interviewers by telephone. The sample size was 400, with a margin of error of +/- 4.9%, at a 95% confidence interval. Interviews were geographically distributed to match the actual voting patterns in Tuesday’s primary in VA-7.


Key Findings

  • Immigration was not a major factor in Rep. Cantor’s defeat. Among those who voted for David Brat, 22% cite immigration as the main reason for their vote, while 77% cite other factors. Chief among those other factors cited by Brat voters were the idea that Cantor “was too focused on national politics instead of local needs,” and that Cantor had “lost touch with voters.”

  • VA-7 voters were less energized by immigration than many other issues. When provided a list of five policies of the Obama Administration, and asked which they thought was most harmful to America, VA-7 GOP primary voters responded this way:

    • Massive expansion of the national debt 33%

    • Obamacare 28%

    • Weakness in national security 14%

    • Liberal social policies on guns and abortion 5%

    • Amnesty for illegal immigrants 4%

  • VA-7 voters overwhelming view the immigration status quo as broken and want it fixed promptly.

    • Q: “Do you believe the current immigration and border security system is generally working well as it is now and that Congress should take no action on the issue, or do you believe that the current immigration and border security system is seriously broken and Congress should take immediate action to fix it?”

    • A: System is broken and Congress should take immediate action 87%

  • The substance of comprehensive immigration reform is broadly supported by those who voted in the VA-7 GOP primary.

    • Q: “Do you support or oppose an immigration reform proposal that would do three things, secure the border with significantly more border patrol agents and fences, crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and allow the 11 million illegal immigrants who are currently in America to have a pathway to becoming U.S. citizens, only after they meet certain requirements, including passing a criminal background check, paying a fine, learning English, and waiting a period of years?”

    • A: 72.5% Support 18.5% Oppose 9% Don’t know/Refused

  • Support for this proposal among various sub-categories of the electorate:

    • Cantor voters: 79%-14%

    • Brat voters: 69%-22%

    • Tea Party voters: 65%-28%

    • Talk radio listeners: 68%-22%

    • Fox News viewers: 74%-19%


As we’ve seen in many national, state, and local surveys, there are approximately 20% of Republican voters who oppose most forms of immigration reform. That roughly matches the 22% of voters who cited immigration as the main reason for their vote in the VA-7 race. The immigration issue was, therefore, a factor in Tuesday’s election, but it was a relatively small one. Rep. Cantor had several more powerful problems with primary voters in his district. At the same time, Republicans in VA-7 overwhelmingly recognize the need to address our failing immigration system rather than ignore it. All but around that same rejectionist 20% support allowing a pathway to U.S. citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants presently in the country, so long as that pathway places several demands on those seeking citizenship and is coupled with strong measures to prevent future illegal immigration.