How Grover Norquist’s Radical Anti-Tax Pledge Sunk Top Tier Republican Senate Candidates

Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform boasted that 279 Congressional incumbents — and another 286 challengers — signed his “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” to never vote for any tax increases under any circumstances.

But when Democrats fought back against the anti-tax zealotry of Norquist and his Republican minions, many voters reacted positively, rejecting the pledge and its adherents. In fact, the notion of asking billionaires to contribute a little more was a key argument for President Obama’s re-election and Democratic victors around the country.

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While not all races have been called, at least 55 Republican House incumbents or candidates who signed the pledge — and 24 Republican Senators or hopefuls — lost on Tuesday. Linda McMahon (R-CT), Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), Treasurer Josh Mandel (R-OH), Secretary of State Charles Summers (R-ME), former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) all signed the pledge and were attacked by their Democrats opponents in face-to-face debates over the issue. All five were defeated in their Senate bids.

State Sen. Tony Strickland (R-CA), Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL), State Sen. Richard Tisei (R-MA), and Rep. Frank Guita (R-NH) were also attacked by their House race opponents in debates for signing the pledge in this campaign or in the past. All four were also defeated.

In fact, of the fifteen-plus House Republican incumbents who apparently lost re-election, every single one had signed Norquist’s pledge.

Norquist’s group spent more than $15 million on independent expenditures. This included hundreds of thousands on ads explicitly defending candidates like Ricky Gill (R-CA) and State Rep. Lee Anderson (R-GA) against criticisms over their having signed the pledge. Both lost.

ThinkProgress War Room special assistant Emily Seldin contributed to this story.