7 Lessons Learned From The 2013 Colorado Election

Last night’s blowout defeat of the billion dollar tax hike Amendment 66 will reverberate far beyond the first Tuesday of November 2013. There were lessons to be learned well beyond the statewide ballot, from a clear cut rejection of union influence to the limits of money in politics.

Colorado, it appears, is not a liberal state, nor a conservative one, but a libertarian state that likes to make up its own mind free of outside influences.

1. The pendulum is swinging back: Last night’s election portends bad things for Democrats in 2014. Colorado is not a red state that has turned blue, but a purple state that historically swings back and forth between the parties. Between the recall elections and the drubbing Amendment 66 took last night, it’s clear voters are rejecting the left-wing legislative overreach Democrats pushed this year. The right has all the momentum at the moment.

2. Mo’ Money, Same Problem: Democrats are beginning to learn the limits of money in politics. Despite outspending their rivals 7:1 in the recalls and 500:1 for Amendment 66, voters refused to be bought. On tax increases in particular, all the money in the world isn’t going to get Coloradans to cough up more to the government. In 2011, a tax increase backed by $600,000 lost 63-37. In 2013, with $12 million, the tax increase lost 65-35. How long will Democrat donors accept that dismal rate of return?

3. School Reform Slates Sweep The State: In perhaps the most underreported news of the night, school reform candidates from Northern Colorado to Jefferson County to Denver swept the school board races. The JeffCo school board “sleeper slate” victory surprised even us. Everyone had their eyes on Douglas County, where reformers beat back a union challenge backed by Obama’s senior Colorado advisor and bankrolled with big national union money. But school choice supporters racked up victories in nearly every race they ran.

4. Unions Not Welcome: Last night was a crushing loss for unions in virtually every race they competed. The Colorado Education Association and National Education Association put at least $4 million behind Amendment 66 only to watch it crash and burn. They also saw their school board candidates lose in Denver, Douglas County, JeffCo, Mapleton, Thompson, Adams 12, and the list goes on. Coloradans don’t take kindly to union types in school board races, it seems.

5. The Obamacare Drag. When asked why Amendment 66 did so poorly, despite allegedly stronger internal polling for supporters of the ballot measure, Senator Michael Johnston laid some blame at the feet of Obamacare.

While liberals had their knives out for Johnston for his analysis, there might be something to it. When the government bungles something as badly as they have Obamacare – the President’s signature legislative accomplishment – trust in government is likely to plummet. To an average voter watching the botched Obamacare roll out it probably wasn’t a big confidence booster. If the government can’t handle a website, why give them another billion dollars of your hard earned money?

6. Stemming The Fractivist Tide. After years of environmental groups paying canvassers to go door-to-door warning citizens that fracking would kill their kids, supporters of the oil and gas industry were able to successfully beat back the fractivists in the swing county of Broomfield. Fracking bans passed in Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette, but those were foregone conclusions for college towns. The real story was Broomfield, a Democrat-leaning swing county, rejecting a fracking ban. It should give national environmental groups looking at pursuing a statewide ban some pause.

7. Guns, Gays and Ganja. The last couple of election cycles have now sent a very strong signal — Coloradans want more freedom, not less. More rights, not less. We’re a libertarian state that prefers government small and our liberty large.

 
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