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Election Was No Mandate for More Government, Taxpayer Group's Analysis Shows
For Immediate Release November 8, 2006
(Alexandria, VA) -- Despite the GOP's loss of the House, Democratic gains in the Senate and the defeat of several tax limitation measures on state ballots, most Americans who went to the polls yesterday voted to keep their pocketbooks closed, according to a post-election survey by the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU).
"The 2006 election did not give a boost to bigger government, and in many cases it delivered a strong message for limited and accountable government," said NTU President John Berthoud. "Had Americans been able to use the write-in options for instructing candidates as well as casting votes for them, ballot-counters across the country would be seeing the same words over and over again: don't raise taxes, get a handle on the budget, stay out of trouble, and keep your hands off our property."
Berthoud noted that the Congressional election results were influenced as much about those who didn't vote as those who did. Using the NTU Rating of Congress, which is based on every roll call vote affecting federal spending, taxes, debt, and regulation, his research found that GOP candidates who strayed from the principles of fiscal conservatism were more likely to alienate their base and be defeated:
Several gubernatorial races also appeared to be at least partially influenced by taxpayer issues. Governorships in Arkansas and Ohio swung to Democrats after the Republicans who previously held the offices lost credibility with their own voters by proposing tax increases. Republican Governors in South Carolina and Minnesota who practiced tough fiscal restraint won reelection, as did the somewhat more moderate Democrats in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee (all of whom professed varying degrees of concern for cutting taxes or controlling spending).
Some of the most important election outcomes involved ballot measures rather than candidates. This year saw nearly 100 proposals pertaining to fiscal and government reform issues. "A shallow reading of the election results would indicate that voters were more liberal this year -- by approving minimum wage hikes in all six states proposing them, and by turning down expenditure limits in Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon," Berthoud said. "A deeper examination, however, shows that voters were skeptical of most tax hike schemes and were concerned about taxes and regulations on their property." Among the highlights of NTU's review of 2006 ballot measure contests:
Returning to the national level, Berthoud observed that the new House majority will not necessarily make up a monolithic consensus for bigger government. A significant number of Democrats who took over Republican-held seats had a more moderate stance on fiscal issues than the party's national leadership. For example, at least five winners (Ellsworth-IN, Giffords-AZ, Hill-IN, Mitchell-AZ, and Sestak-PA) have publicly pledged support for either holding the line on tax increases or putting a lid on budget growth.
"A fairly good case can be made that the story of Election 2006 is more about poorly-led House Republicans losing than Democrats winning," Berthoud concluded. "This is especially true when viewed alongside the state and local ballot measure results, which show that voters don't long for a return to the tax-and-spend mindset. Americans would likely cheer Bill Clinton's statement in 1996 that the era of big government is over, but 10 years later they're still waiting for the political establishment to act that way."
NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group working for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. Note: NTU's Ballot Measure Guide, as well as the NTU Congressional Candidate Survey, is available at www.ntu.org.