Ezra Klein thinks Grover Norquist won:
Norquist and his pledge changed more than the conversation. They changed American politics. The question isn’t how we’ll increase taxes and by how much. It’s whether we’ll increase taxes. For a Republican to simply consider a tax increase is considered a massive concession. That helps them ultimately agree to less in taxes, as having conceded so much philosophically and politically, they’re expected to do less as a matter of policy.
The true test of Norquist’s pledge wasn’t whether a Republican ever voted for another tax increase. It was whether it held tax revenues below where they’d otherwise be. It’s whether it increased the political cost of raising taxes. And today, you can see how well his pledge has worked.
I think Ezra’s right that Norquist is influential and has moved the conversation. He’s wrong if he thinks that Republicans will recognize this and consider Grover a winner. Grover’s living in a black and white world. Telling the Nordquist constituency that they’ve won because the marginal tax rate is lower than it would have been otherwise is like telling an abstinence-only sex educator that they’ve won because kids are blowing each other instead of having intercourse. Abstinence-only sex educators don’t want kids to have orgasms, period. Grover and his constituency doesn’t want higher taxes, period. There’s no relative win to be had here. Anything less than a total victory means the devil is in charge, because this is about ideology, not practical policy.