11-5-14 – Initial Impressions from the Election – Progressive Policies Rebuked

Posted by Rob Roper 

The Progressive Agenda – government run healthcare, taxpayer subsidized “green” energy, general redistribution of wealth — took a drubbing last night both nationally and in Vermont.

Nationally, President Obama said, “I’m not on the ballot this fall, but make no mistake: ‘my’ policies are on the ballot this fall, every single one of them.” The voters made no mistake; Republicans ran the table.

R’s needed six seats to gain control of the US Senate, and have won seven outright with Alaska and Virginia still not called (R’s are likely to win Alaska with a recount possible in Virginia) and Louisiana going to a runoff, again favoring the Republicans. That’s a likely net gain of nine seats.

In the Governors’ races, Democrats were hoping to gain seats. They didn’t. Particularly, Democrats were targeting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Maine’s Paul LePage, and Kansas’ Sam Brownback, all of whom have taken the lead on binging a number of conservative economic reforms from curtailing public sector union power, to major overhauls of the tax code and welfare reform. Taking out these three would have been a repudiation of free market policies offsetting the message sent to Democrats at the federal level. However, all three Republicans won reelection handily. (Note, the North Carolina Senate race between Democrat Kay Hagen and Republican Thom Tillis, who is speaker of the NC house, was also supposed to be a referendum on North Carolina’s conservative overhaul of state tax and regulatory policy. Tillis won.)

In fact, not only did Democrats fail to pick up governorships, they lost governorships in blue strongholds of Maryland, Massachusetts, and the president’s home state of Illinois. And, here in Vermont, Governor Peter Shumlin got the shock of his life from first time candidate, poorly funded Scott Milne. Shumlin is less than 3000 votes ahead and facing a possible recount.

Regardless of the outcome of the recount, Shumlin earned than 50% of the vote. This is a severe rebuke for Shumlin’s agenda, particularly single payer healthcare. Milne’s strategy, as stated by the candidate, was to not run on his own issues but to allow the voters to make the election all about Shumlin. Apparently it worked pretty well.  Mocked repeatedly by Vermont’s political class (as well as nationally), Milne was, to dust off an old descriptor, misunderestimated.

But, progressive policies did have a aggressive champion this cycle, Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate Dean Corren.  Despite getting the backing of both the Democrat and Progressive parties as well as $200,000 in public financing (a big progressive policy in itself), Corren got crushed by Phil Scott.

Elsewhere, Vermont Republicans look like they will pick up two state senate seats for a total of nine, and at least nine house seats with a few still up in the air.

The most meaningful of those house races were the loss of Mike Fisher (D-Lincoln), who was chair of the House Healthcare Committee, which sends a pretty clear message regarding single payer healthcare. And, the loss of Linda Waite-Simpson, who had been leading the charge in the house for a variety of gun control legislation. Waite-Simpson’s defeat makes GunSense Vermont one of the biggest losers of the night.

Curious to know your thoughts, so please comment on the blog!

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Fortner November 5, 2014 at 6:26 pm

As a CT resident who visits Vermont regularly, it’s incredibly ironic to me that your supposedly entrenched liberal state showed far more diversity in thought and voting than did the supposedly enlightened Nutmeg State (which an article in the Hartford Courant recently referred to as an “incubator of progressive ideas.”) It gives me hope that VT will avoid the one-party sclerosis that exists in CT, and perhaps ease its way to a rational politics.

Looking from afar, perhaps one of the main problems for Gov. Shumlin and his supporters may have been their “hide the ball until after the election” approach to VT Single Payer. That game is being played nationwide, and I suspect it’s sell-by date is rapidly approaching.

Whether 2014 is a one-off function of Obama/Democrat/Progressive over-reach and failure, or reflects that the voters are becoming fed up with the growth of omnipresent, nanny state government, will be interesting to watch.


Jim Bulmer November 8, 2014 at 1:26 am

Happily, our guy Job Tate won. However, there’s still a long way to go. We’ve got to emasculate the super majority before sanity can be restored.


Eddie Cutler November 8, 2014 at 11:22 am

Thanks for this article Rob. The defeat of Linda will be a breath of fresh air to the Article 16th community. it also says to the politicians that they should not believe the lies from Gun Sense Vermont. We picked up a bunch of pro gun and pro freedom people this year.
Ed Cutler
Gun Owners of Vermont


James Hall November 8, 2014 at 11:57 am

Having spent the majority of the last two months working for our candidate in Rutland Town, I can tell you that people are livid over property taxes, and the out of control keep piling it on approach from in- sensitive politicians. The Republicans need to come up with a plan that will resonate with property tax payers. When that is done, it will succeed regardless. The voters have the last word, as we found out this week.


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