“I believe after almost 23 years in public service that I can play a role and not just in elected office obviously but in the private sector,” Cantor said.

Think Karl Rove, some say.

“He could be much more powerful as a fundraiser on the outside because he could start or assume control of a super PAC,” Republican strategist Ron Bonjean told Politico. “He’d be very helpful and raise millions more than he could as majority leader.”

Before last Tuesday, this election cycle had largely been seen as a convincing victory for the Republican establishment and its big business allies. Time and again, tea party challengers were swept away, often by large margins.