Tuesday, the state of Oregon voted to raise taxes on the rich--something it hasn't done in over 70 years. Liberals are eager to see the vote as a counterstrike against those envisioning a conservative comeback in the Massachusetts upset. But is that just wishful thinking?

  • Populist, Not Conservative, Resurgence, decides The New Rpublic's Jonathan Chait, who says that this point is often "overlooked ... the current angry populist mood may be hurting the Democrats, who hold power, but the mood is not an ideologically conservative one." Taxing the rich is still popular, even if the public has "grown more conservative on other issues." Jonathan Singer agrees: the Oregon vote is entirely in keeping with the results in Massachusetts. "Voters are in a populist mood right now--not an anti-government one, necessarily, but a populist one nevertheless." Domenico Montanaro certainly predicts Democrats will spin this as proof that liberal populism "can be just as potent as an anti-big government message." They will also "see this as validation that 'tax the rich' may be palatable to voters in 2010."
  • Could Tea Party Swing Left? "This vote," explains Capital Gains and Games blogger Bruce Bartlett, "is considered a bellwether because the state has previously been supportive of tax limitation measures. Also, it appears that populist anger, which has previously been channeled toward the anti-tax tea party movement, may have the potential to swing in the other direction when people are faced with cuts in programs with wide support." The leftward populist move seems plausible to him: "I can easily see many tea party goers becoming rabid tax-the-rich folks if the alternative is higher taxes on them."
  • Just as Important as Massachusetts "I really don't see any reason," writes the Free Exchange blog at The Econo mist, "to downplay this outcome relative to the Massachusetts election. If anything, this vote is more telling as candidate personalities weren't on the ballot."
  • Though Don't Expect It to Play That Way "I'm not holding my breath for Cokie Roberts and George Will and Chris Matthews to drone on about how this is a game-changer," says progressive blogger Marcy Wheeler. That said, as the "book-end to the MA Senate vote," this result shows "progressive messaging and policies do work."
  • Progressive Messaging Works If It's Well Done, writes Robert Cruickshank at Calitics, noting the "smart progressive organizing ... which reached out to younger voters and had a strong ground game." Such a campaign can indeed beat "well-funded, well-organized corporate/teabagger alliances."
  • Or If It's Simply Got a Ton of Money "Big Labor," summarizes conservative Michelle Malkin, "poured millions of rank-and-file members' dues into a tax hike campaign in Oregon. It worked."