But sometimes those poll data do not persuade, so the Times’ excitement got me thinking about other data. We know from experience that people tend to be opposed to tax hikes more than they are supportive of tax cuts, and much more than they are supportive of spending cuts. For the “libertarian moment” argument to be true, there has to be a large group of people who, like Cato Institute devotees, are enthusiastic about gay marriage and marijuana legalization and oppose tax hikes. “Libertarian moment” acolytes often say that “Silicon Valley types” and “entrepreneurs” are the people they think will switch once the GOP stops dancing with the icky social conservatives. Do the data support that claim?
Fortunately, I found data to test that hypothesis. In the 2012 general election, California had a statewide initiative on the ballot (Prop 30) to raise sales taxes on everyone and income taxes on households earning more than $250,000. The presidential race was also on the ballot, so here is a unique opportunity to test the “libertarian moment” thesis. Did Obama voters in the Silicon Valley oppose the tax hikes in large enough numbers to be politically significant?
No, they did not. Looked at on the county level, the tax hikes were approved by over 2–1 margins in all four Bay Area counties that could be said to be part of the “Silicon Valley” economy. Those margins were smaller than the margin by which the president defeated Mitt Romney, but not enough to make even a dent in the general trend. “No” to tax hikes polled only about eight to nine points better than Romney.