Magic Mushrooms, Statehouse Flip-Flops And Other Election Stunners
The 2020 election brought quite a few surprises… Many of which had nothing to do with Biden or Trump.
Let’s start with the “blue wave” that wasn’t…
With redistricting right around the corner, Democrats were hoping that there would be yuge momentum on their side to flip a few statehouses or at least make substantial gains in legislative chambers across the country. After all, the party in power maps out the district boundaries for congressional and statewide races. This exercise, as Politico noted, will determine “the balance of power for the next decade” – so kind of a big deal.
Yet rather than getting the opportunity to brush up on their cartography, Democrats did not flip a single statehouse… not one.
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It was Republicans who turned the tables.
In New Hampshire, for instance, Republicans picked up majorities in legislature… and the governor was reelected, solidifying the GOP trifecta.
In Montana, after 16 years of a Democrat occupying the governor’s mansion, Republican Greg Gianforte handily beat his opponent.
In Texas – the holy grail for Democrats year after year – the Party failed to pick up a single House seat.
In Minnesota, Republicans successfully fended off a challenge to their majority in the Senate.
Republicans also maintained their House and Senate majorities in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Same with the important Sun Belt states of Florida and Georgia – the legislature remained in Republican control.
As the National Conference on State Legislatures acknowledged, “It appears that Republicans increased their numbers on net nationwide.”
Moreover, the GOP has chipped away at Nancy Pelosi’s majority in the House of Representatives by at least seven seats, while Republicans in the U.S. Senate are poised to keep their majority after January’s runoffs in Georgia.
Bottom line: There was no “blue wave”… not even a ripple… basically a still pond.
Then, there were the election ballot measures…
We begin in California…
Although the Golden State went for Joe Biden by some 30 points, residents there defeated an attempt to rescind a two-decades-old ban on racial preferences that is written into the state constitution.
For context, in 1996, California voters adopted Proposition 209, which made it illegal to “discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
But because California’s political class worships at the altar of identity politics, Prop. 16 was launched, which, if passed, would’ve allowed state entities to take race into account (aka, to discriminate) in matters of hiring and college admissions.
The good (and shocking) news is that Prop. 16 was smoked, even though its opponents were seriously outspent. Only 44% of voters supported the proposition, while 56% of voters told California’s racial agitators to go pound sand.
That wasn’t the only good news out of California… Recall that California’s legislature arbitrarily decided to change how Uber and Lyft do business. The law – Assembly Bill 5 – was subsequently signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last year, which stated that drivers for these app-based companies must be reclassified as employees, not as independent contractors.
The result, as intended, would have obliterated the ride-share model, leaving passengers with fewer and more expensive options. It would have also denied drivers flexible, moneymaking opportunities. For all the do-gooder rhetoric in support of these changes, the reality was that this move was a naked attempt to aid the Democrat-friendly unions by subjecting gig economy workers to California’s anti-business labor practices.
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Voters saw right through the tactic, however, and Prop. 22, which designated ride-hailing drivers as independent contractors, won easily. The final tally was 58% to 42%.
Voters also had the opportunity to roll back Prop. 13, a constitutional amendment that capped commercial property taxes at 1% of the purchase price and restricted rate increases to, at most, 2% per year. Prop. 15 was proposed as a replacement, which would’ve linked commercial property taxes instead to the market value, not the assessed one.
The result would’ve been a massive, billion-dollar tax hike on businesses, both large and small, in an already-overtaxed environment. Prop.15, however, failed, 48% to 52%.
And how about the ballot initiative to “expand rent control by local governments,” which crashed and burned by a whopping 20 percentage points? Is the cudgel of class warfare becoming too hackneyed even for… California?
Moving up the I-5 corridor to Oregon… where voters had a chance to rein in Portland’s out-of-control homeless problem by taking an honest look at the drug epidemic behind so much of it. Yet what did voters decide? To decriminalize hard drugs, of course!
Voters in the Beaver State passed Measure 110 by a 17-point margin, which legalizes personal possession of cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, and meth. They also passed Measure 109, making Oregon the first state in the nation to legalize hallucinogenic drugs as a means to foster “personal development” and combat depression.
It’s unclear how “magic mushrooms” will help stabilize a person’s mental health or how normalizing meth on the streets will ameliorate the state’s public health and safety crises, but hey, federalism baby! Let Oregon experiment with this anti-social behavior so the rest of the country doesn’t have to.
Heading over to Big Sky Country, gun-control zealots decided it was a worthy pursuit to dump piles of money in, out of all places, Montana. The Michael Bloomberg-financed Every Town for Gun Safety, along with similar groups, spent $1.4 million in an effort to convince residents there to give up their Second Amendment rights. That attempt failed. While gun rights advocates barely spent $50,000 to make their case, Legislative Referendum 130 still passed.
From now on, Montana’s local authorities do not have the power to regulate the carrying of concealed firearms. That power is left up to the state. Residents don’t need to worry that one municipality’s ordinance on guns is different from another’s. The law will be uniform. Supporters hailed this victory in a very Montana way: by quoting the video-game gunslinger, Duke Nukem. “It’s time to kick ass or chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of bubblegum,” declared one activist.
In Illinois, voters found a tax hike that even they oppose… Governor J.B. Pritzker pushed hard for a progressive income tax on the so-called “rich.” Currently, Illinois has a 4.95% flat income tax rate, and the Democrat Party proposed a graduated income tax that escalated it to 7.99% for incomes above $750,000.
But 55% of the voters in a deep blue state rejected this referendum – a big blow to Chicago’s notorious public employee unions that were banking on additional revenue streams to line their coffers with other people’s money. It’s still too soon, though, for Illinois residents to be clinking the champagne glasses together… The Prairie State maintains the inglorious ranking of being the highest-taxed state in the union.
The Democrats did score a few tax-and-spend wins… While Illinois voters rejected a tax hike, Arizona voters welcomed one. Prop. 208 jacked up the top marginal tax rate to 8% from its current status of 4.5%. This new rate will hit individual incomes over $250,000 and, as the Tax Foundation points out, it will not be adjusted for inflation. Arizona, we see your future… and it looks a lot like California.
Meanwhile, Colorado voters are about to learn the hard way that there is no such thing as a free lunch… or in this case, “free” family leave. Prop. 118 was overwhelmingly passed, which earmarks up to 16 weeks of paid medical and family leave at $1,100 per week… courtesy of taxpayers. Both employees and employers will be socked with a combined $1.3 billion tax hike to pay for this new government entitlement…
But get this… to qualify for paid leave on the taxpayers’ dime, a person must earn a minimum of only $2,500. You do the math… Eligibility for a multiweek program that shells out more than $1,000 every seven days to stay home and not work is reached when an employee brings home just $2,500 in income. Seems totally financially sound.
Marijuana was also on the ballot… Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota all legalized the recreational use of cannabis. They now join 11 other states that have done the same.
The 2020 election didn’t turn out to be “Christmas in November” for the Democrats. They got one big present – Biden edged out Trump. But most of the rest of what Santa brought them was just a bunch of drugs. They’d better take some if they want to keep thinking that America is riding a blue wave…