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Voters overwhelmingly re-elect candidates who raise transportation revenue, analysis of general election results shows

Continuing a trend observed in the primaries, an updated T4America analysis of November’s election data shows that 90 percent of legislators supporting revenue increases in ten states won their re-election bids. Perhaps that knowledge will help legislators in 17 states (and counting) considering similar plans take similar action this year.

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View our full page tracking and summarizing the data on these votes.

The conventional wisdom has been that supporting any sort of tax increase is a political death sentence, but recent data perhaps suggests the opposite conclusion — at least with regard to tax increases intended to invest in transportation.

Since 2012 at least ten states have done the “unthinkable” and either increased gas taxes or otherwise raised significant transportation funding through legislative action: Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

Transportation for America has kept a close eye on those votes at the state level to raise revenue and the subsequent response from voters in the elections that followed. We first examined this data after the primary elections in 2014, when supportive state legislators won their primaries at an amazing 98 percent clip. With a full election cycle behind us, how did supportive state legislators fare?

  • A total of 961 legislators in these ten states ran for re-election after voting yes on a measure to raise transportation revenues by some mechanism.
  • 23 candidates lost their primary election, resulting in a 98 percent success rate in the primaries for those that voted yes and ran for re-election.
  • 939 supportive legislators reached the general election*.
  • 71 supportive candidates lost in the general election for a total of 868 supportive legislators retaining their seats.
  • The total re-election rate for supportive legislators who ran is 868/961, or 90 percent.

*1 Independent candidate (Adam Greshin in Vermont) did not run in a primary due to lack of party registration.

View our full page tracking and summarizing the data on these votes.

This encouraging trend could serve as a powerful object lesson for the legislators in the 17 states and counting currently considering legislative plans to raise the gas tax or other tax/fee increases for additional transportation revenue.