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“The more arrows [Mr. Cantor] takes shot by Democrats, the more popular he becomes among Republicans, which is exactly where he wants to be,” Mr. Sabato said.

“I don’t care what people want to say, he’s never going to be president, he’s never going to be senator or governor. His future is, as he hopes, to be speaker of the House. And to be speaker of the House, you really just have to please your own caucus.”

Whether Mr. Cantor’s relentless leadership approach will translate into a successful tenure as majority leader, a role he has served since January, is too early to predict, Mr. Rozell said.

“People who believe in the old style of compromise, cooperative and moderation as the hallmarks of our government, wouldn’t give him very high marks,” Mr. Rozell said. “But from a strictly strategic standpoint, has he been able to raise his profile and make a big impact? Absolutely.

“You don’t see many party leaders in such a short time vault to the top of the national policy debates the way he has.”