Did Trumpism Defeat Santa Fe’s Soda Tax?

Source: Daniel J. Chacón, “Voters smack down mayor’s beverage tax proposal,” Santa Fe New Mexican, May 3, 2017

Errors of Enchantment doesn’t like to gloat.

But we’ll admit it — we’ve been grinning, ear to ear, since a majority of Santa Fe’s voters rejected Mayor Javier Gonzales’s sugary-beverage tax two weeks ago.

But the Nanny State is still smarting, and pouting, over the defeat. On Sunday, the mayor’s daughter “wrote” a piece for the Santa Fe New Mexican, thundering that “we will not go down as a whisper but a roar for equality that I hope will reach all corners of the nation.” Cameron Gonzales, who “volunteered with Pre-K for Santa Fe for her senior internship,” wailed that there “were many side effects of the Trump era that we couldn’t see coming,” linking an “overwhelming sense of anger at the government overstepping its boundaries, deeply rooted anti-intellectualism and the ability of large corporations to stomp on the voice of the people” to the beverage tax’s defeat.

But there’s a pesky flaw in her argument: Santa Fe overwhelmingly voted against Donald Trump.

If Gonzales had bothered to survey the official results in Santa Fe County, she’d have learned that Trump prevailed in just seven of 90 precincts. Each win was in the extreme southwest portion of the county. In the city itself, Trump was annihilated — in some precincts, Hillary Clinton topped 80 percent of the vote. Even in the parts of Santa Fe where the beverage tax enjoyed the least amount of support (District Three and District Four, depicted above), Trump was soundly defeated.

Maybe — just maybe — Santa Feans rejected the mayor’s nannying because it disproportionately impacted lower-income households, was sure to damage the economy, and wasn’t needed to augment revenue for a preschool bureaucracy that was already generously funded?

From a free-market perspective, the commander-in-chief is a mixed bag. On trade, he’s terrible, on taxes, inconsistent, and on energy policy, downright virtuous. But “the Trump era” had precisely zilch to do with Santa Fe’s rejection of a sugary-drinks tax. If supporters of the tax-drinks-to-pay-for-pre-k scheme keep telling themselves that The Donald is to blame for their first defeat at the hands of voters, they should expect losses in many more communities to come.