Tonight I will be live-blogging local and national politics election results and analysis. Election Night in America is one of the best nights of the year. I love to see democracy in action. This is what makes our great nation so great: people across the country casting their ballots and making their opinions heard. Perhaps tonight we can gain a few “take-aways” from tonight’s election results to gage some nationwide political trends so that we can apply these trends as “bellwethers” — any entity in a given arena that serves to create or influence trends or to presage future happenings. The biggest bellwether races this year I am focusing on are the Virginia governor’s race between Terry McAuliffe (D) and Ken Cuccinelli (R) the tea-party candidate, which is turning out to be a tight race. And then locally speaking, my eye is on the Amendment 66 here in Colorado, which “would inject $950 million of new money into K-12 education by changing the state income tax from a flat rate of 4.63 percent to a two-tiered arrangement. The first $75,000 of taxable income would be taxed at 5 percent and everything above that threshold at 5.9 percent.”
VIRGINIA GOVERNOR’S RACE
The reason the national media is focusing so much on Virginia and their governor’s race is due to the fact that Virginia is a swing state and it shows the divide in America between liberals and conservatives. The geography of Virginia displays this divide very clearly. Northern Virginia is very suburban, and considered part of the “Beltway” and contains many industries which are connected closely to our nations capital in D.C. Defense contractors are a huge part of the economy in northern Virginia. Then there is the more rural areas of southern Virginia which are more conservative, where more distrust of Big Government exists. These are the areas where Tea Party candidates like Ken Cuccinelli can find big support. The counties in northern Virginia tend to go blue, whereas the southern counties tend to go red. This division is what makes Virginia a bellwether.
Ken Cuccinelli has a “women problem”. His extreme rhetoric makes him an unpopular candidate with the women’s vote. I think that if women turn out tonight, and the exit polls support this, he will lose. We have seen many big names come out to stump for both Cuccinelli and for McAuliffe.In the last few days even President Obama and it-girl Kerry Washington have stumped for McAuliffe. But so did the Clintons, who are close friends of Terry McAuliffe. Meanwhile Rand Paul and many tea-party darlings were on the stump for Cuccinelli.
Breaking NEWS: Media outlets are now calling the Virginia governor’s race for Terry McAuliffe (D)!
I expected McAuliffe would win. I think that Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme rhetoric made a victory unlikely for him. Women turned out and voted, and they voted for McAuliffe. However, the problematic early roll out of the Affordable Care Act brought out a vein of populist anger which did give Cuccinelli a boost. On the stump, Dems were careful to leave out any mentions of Obama-care because they know it is political poison. This race was quite close considering that Cuccinelli is such an extreme candidate. It shows that there is a lot of anger against the establishment candiates right now.
COLORADO’S AMENDMENT 66: Doomed to Fail?
Here in Colorado, an Amendment regarding funding structures and taxes for public education was put to the voters. As of now, almost 8:00pm Mountain time, the polls are closed here in Colorado and Colorado Public Radio and the Denver Post and other news outlets are projecting that Amendment 66 will fail. I think that pushing a tax hike at this time is a hard sell. There is no doubt to me that in Colorado, education funding is very flawed and complex due to complicated legislation in the state regarding taxes like the TABOR ACT (Tax Payer Bill of Rights Act.) Colorado is ranked 49th of 50 states for education funding. There are schools in complete decay across the state, especially in rural areas where property taxes generate less revenue. These kids in the public education system are being failed by the system. There is not enough funding to create solid schools which achieve their education goals. But to levy a tax increase across all tax brackets at this time is a very tough sell. Many opponents of Amendment 66 made the argument that this Amendment passing would be a drag on the state economy, just when the economy is starting to get better. No doubt many families in Colorado are struggling to make ends meet, and higher tax bills are the last thing people want. Personally I voted for Amendment 66 and I have no children and plan to have none. I just think education is important to society. Apparently the Koch brothers have even been meddling in Colorado. Some cynics say this means they have hopes of privatizing the education system. Politico did a great think-piece on that topic that I encourage you all to check out.
I will post local election results when they come in! Stay posted and hit refresh!
Breaking News: Amendment 66 Fails
Local news outlets are now reporting that Amendment 66 failed, and the marijuana taxing measure, proposition AA, has passed. What is there to say? I have friends who work very hard as teachers in this state and I imagine they feel very deflated right now. As do the children and parents of school-age children. This paradigm of under-funding education has deep roots in this state and it is a systemic problem that will need a multi-pronged solution. Just rasing taxes may not be the solution. I think that we need to also repeal the TABOR Act.