A different perspective

There’s always more than one way to look at things. I savored these bullets, which drive home just how broad the president’s new mandate really is.

— This is the largest number of people who have ever voted AGAINST a president

— 1% more than 50% is not a mandate but a bare, thin, majority.

— At 80% approval after 9-11 and guaranteed a landslide election by prognosticators 2 years ago, only half the country supports him

— A president who leads a divided country owes it to all Americans to lead fairly or have his party face the consequences begining in 2006. No one else is here to blame

— Assuming Bush gets New Mexico and Iowa, he will have gotten the lowest percentage of electoral votes (54%) of any incumbent running for reelection since Wilson. If those two states should swing Kerry’s way (NM might), it’ll be even lower.

— He will have won with the lowest percentage of the popular vote (51%) of any incumbent running for reelection since Truman (well, technically since Clinton, but he also ran against Perot, who was a more significant 3rd-party candidate than Thurmond and Wallace were in ’48)

— He will have won by the lowest margin of the popular vote (3.5M) of any incumbent running for reelection since Truman (2.1M, and back then only 50M voted).

Of course, shrub behaved as though he beat Gore by a huge landslide in 2000. I’m afraid now he’s going to think he’s lord emperor, if not god himself.

Update: A picture’s worth 1,000 words, so here’s a pie chart showing bush’s massive victory.


Graphic via Pandagon.

The Discussion: 13 Comments

Some fair points, but this one reads like Democratic sour grapes:

“1% more than 50% is not a mandate but a bare, thin, majority.”

Technically, it is a mandate, even if just barely. Let’s face it, he did actually get elected this time.

November 4, 2004 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

Chris, totally true — I never said he wasn’t fairly elected. He was. He won, and I will never sayt he stole the election. But they’re talking like he had a huge majority and thus a broad mandate — you’d know what I mean if you were here!

November 4, 2004 @ 7:34 pm | Comment

Most people have ignored a simple fact: Only 60% of the electorate voted. While one would say that therefore only 30% of Americans then in fact voted for Bush and his policies, I maintain that an additional 40% were comfortable enough to keep him in power that they didn’t bother voting. That would give Bush a mandate, regardless of its strength of feeling throughout America, of 70% of its citizens.

November 4, 2004 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

Mandate, schmandate. Bush owes the evangelical vote big time. The piper’s got to be paid.

November 4, 2004 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

It’s nice to see that the Democrats aren’t trying to pin this one on Nader, at least.

November 4, 2004 @ 10:45 pm | Comment

I guess it was only to be expected that this website would become a wholesale outlet for boxes of pre-ripe grapes given its “who cares about objectivity as long as Kerry wins” slant over the last weeks and months.

And Keir … that line of argument is old hat … and a pretty stupid looking hat it is too. Democrats have spent so long convincing themselves that they have a monopoly on right views that they’re convinced that everyone must agree with them … so therefore the only way Bush could win is if not enough people vote. Well … you got your record turn out in this election … many more people voted than before … and the result? An increased margin for Bush.

As for it being a tight election Richard … given how polarised the American electorate is, that was a significant swing in favour of Bush. Did you notice that in pretty much every exit poll (as much as you can trust those things) there were more Democrats who said they’d vote for Bush than Republicans who said they’d vote for Kerry? Of the ones I saw on the CNN website, in pretty much every case there were 2 to 4% more Democrats saying they’d vote Republican than the other way around. If this is an accurate reflection of the way people actually voted, then you’d have to say that Bush did a much better job of winning people from your side into his camp than the Democrats did of winning over Republicans. You would also say that it was this swing among registered Democrats that gave Bush the winning margin.

Seems to demonstrate pretty clearly something I’ve said to you a few times before: the extreme partisan nature of your postings about Bush (as a reflection of the democrat election campaign in general) will only convince people who already agree with you. The people you’ve got to convince are those who are not already ideologically inclined in your direction. That’s what the Democrats failed to do, but what Bush seems to have succeeded in doing in sufficient numbers to win the election. [See also the figures about how more Hispanics and Jews and other minority groups voted. More still supported the Democrats, but the % in those communities who went for Bush was higher than in the past.]

November 5, 2004 @ 12:09 am | Comment

Richard, if Kerry had won 51/49 instead, would he have been considered to have a mandate to govern? Fortunately our democratic system means the majority’s verdict is all that matters. In this case Bush won significantly in terms of the total votes and clearly won (some whacky conspiracy theories notwithstanding) on the Electoral College vote. There’s nothing to dispute. He has a clear mandate, because he has won the election just like you would claim Kerry had a clear mandate should he have won.

In fact Bush could claim a clear mandate on the basis of increased Republican seats in both the Senate and House as well. A mandate has been delivered by the electorate to Bush – if Democrats are to remain a viable alternative you need to learn the lessons of this election rather than ignore them. And accept your President has a mandate to govern, whether you like it or not.

November 5, 2004 @ 1:42 am | Comment

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the party
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts.
Would it not be easier
In that case for the party
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

November 5, 2004 @ 2:02 am | Comment

Li En, I agree with your point about bush doing a much better job in bringing people to vote — incredibly better, and it’s been a constant complaint from me that they communicate far better to the everyday American. No comparison. As to more Dems voting for bush than Repubs voting for Kerry, that’s the first time I’ve heard this and would like to see it documented. I’m skeptical. The GOP accomplished this coup through the values pitch, a pitch to people’s base emotions and often their hatreds. It has worked throughout history. It was never about Bush’s achievements (none to speak of) but about the moral decay that would follow a Kerry win.

Simon, it depends on what your definition of “mandate” is. bush is talking as if he won a landslide, which he didn’t. Of course he has a mandate to govern, but not a mandate to ram far-right policies down our throats. I would never claim Kerry won a clear mandate if he won by a hair. Despite the wins of all those GOP seats, bush still won the smallest majority of any sitting president since Woodrow Wilson.

November 5, 2004 @ 6:45 am | Comment

Look I might not like many of Bush’s policies, but he won cleanly and clearly enough. He had a set of policies that was endorsed by a majority of those voting. He clearly has a mandate to implement those policies – that’s what people voted for him to do. I accept you might not like it, but there’s no difference between “just winning” and “winning by a lot” in elections. Once you win, you have a mandate to implement the policies you ran with.

November 8, 2004 @ 12:04 am | Comment

Simon, after every presidential election in the US the media go crazy discussing whether or not he has a mandate, and that discussion took place all last week. Many say a win of 2 percent does not constitute a “broad mandate.” Reagan won his second election by nearly 10 percent, and there was general agreement he had won a broad mandate. Of course he has a mandate since he won. But the numbers tell him it wasn’t so broad that the people are thirsting for his every policy; he has to keep in mind that a lot of people are reluctant and hesitant about many of his policies. Of course, he won’t keep that in mind — he ignored that fact in the last election, when he actually lost the populare vote.

November 8, 2004 @ 6:27 am | Comment

Richard, firstly sorry for your loss (mentioned in the post above).

Secondly what would you have Bush do? Pick and choose his policies? How does he go about determining which ones where those that people where voting for (or against)? Likewise if Kerry had won by the same margin, I’m guessing you’d be claiming he had a mandate to reverse and change many of Bush’s policies. Bush won by 3% on the popular vote; he won a clear and undisputed majority in the EC.

It’s similar to being pregnant: you can’t be a little bit. You either have the mandate or you don’t. Part of the reason so many were unhappy with Bush’s first term was because he won based on the Supreme Court’s rulings, yet he governed as if he had a clear mandate. This time he does have a clear mandate. You can oppose him and disagree with him, but a clear majority of your fellow Americans want him to implement all of his policies. That’s a mandate.

November 8, 2004 @ 11:10 pm | Comment

Simon, sorry but this is not how American politics work. There was shock and amazement after bush in 2001 acted as though he had a broad mandate — entire books have been written about it. When you have a slim majority (and especially when you LOSE the popular vote!), you are expected to make every effort to show respect and compassion to the other side, which I believe Kerry would have done. bush made an effort at it in his acceptance speech, but we saw it was BS a few days later when he began to talk about his “political capital.” Yes, he won political capital, but his language and tone again indicate he thinks he won a landslide. But let’s not argue, because we won’t resolve it. To understand this argument and why it is being made by so many American pundits you may want to go to Google News and search for bush + mandate and you’ll see I’m hardly alone on this subject.

November 9, 2004 @ 7:12 am | Comment

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