Disaffection with the president was a major driver for Republican success in last night’s election – of that there is no doubt. That said, the extent of success was greatly helped by…wait for it…taxes.
We begin with the epicenter of the tax argument: Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback’s tax reduction were supposed to be his own worst enemy – a political millstone that might not only drag him down, but Senator Pat Roberts, too. Instead, Roberts won going away, and Brownback not only won re-election, but came within 100 votes of an absolute majority (a Libertarian nominee took 4% of the vote). AP (via the Lawrence Journal-World), explains why in their exit poll analysis:
TAX CUTS: Roughly half of the voters said that tax cuts Brownback pushed had mostly helped Kansas, while about two in five said they had hurt.
So the tax cuts broke roughly 10 ten points in Brownback’s favor, contrary to the conventional wisdom…not that this is any surprise to me.
In the rest of the country, the tax issue popped up in referenda. John Hood (NRO – The Corner) has the details:
It’s worth noting also that conservatives won all of the nation’s big fiscal-policy referenda this year, beating a gas-tax hike in Massachusetts and business-tax hike in Nevada, while winning tax limitations in Tennessee, Georgia, and Wisconsin.
Note the states listed: Massachusetts also elected a Republican Governor. In Georgia, both Republicans (Purdue for Senate and Governor Deal for re-election) managed to avoid runoff and win outright (yet another “surprise” for the chattering classes). Finally, of course, Wisconsin re-elected Governor Scott Walker with unexpected ease.
Finally, there is Maryland, where I must spend two nights a week for work. As such, I saw every add Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (D) put up in his race to succeed his previous running mate, Governor Martin O’Malley. Brown’s ads ran the gamut of positive and negative, hard-hitting issue ads and soft-touch personal ones. By contrast, I only saw one ad for Republican Larry Hogan – an ad that tried to squeeze in all of O’Malley’s tax increases in 30 seconds (practically one per second), along with a promise to give taxpayers a rest if he (Hogan) won.
In fact, Hogan did win.
Similarly, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn used major tax increases to keep his state government afloat. Despite being in the president’s home state, Quinn lost to Republican Bruce Rauner last night.
Again, anger and disaffection with the president was the big driver here, but voters especially rewarded Republicans where they could also take advantage of the tax issue…
…which makes one wonder what could have happened in Virginia had Republican Ed Gillespie not had the headwinds of tax-hiking Republican Bob McDonnell to face.
I’m just sayin’.
Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal