Writing in the St. Louis Beacon, Prof. Joel Goldstein argues that Pres. Obama’s reelection victory was bigger than it may have looked, and that the voters gave Obama a solid mandate to proceed with implementation of Obamaism in the second term.
Here are a few of his main points:
*Obama won with 50.6 of the popular vote and 61 percent of the electoral vote. Both of these were down from his 2008 victory, which is a major talking point for those seeking to undermine talk of a mandate. Goldstein notes that Obama becomes only the third president in the last 60 years to clear 50 percent twice (Eisenhower and Reagan being the other two). The trouble with that point is that clearing 50 percent has more to do with whether there is a significant third party vote.
*Obama’s Electoral College margin was bigger than George W. Bush achieved in 2000 or 2004, and that didn’t stop Bush from declaring a mandate for the issues on which he had run.
*It’s true that Obama lost two states (Indiana and North Carolina) that he had carried in 2008. But those states have rarely gone blue in recent history. Goldstein thinks it’s more significant that Obama, for the second time, carried four states that have been fairly reliably red in recent history. here’s his paragraph on that:
“What’s significant is not that Obama lost those two states, but that he held long-time red states like Virginia (10 of last 10 pre-Obama elections, red), Colorado (7 of last 10 pre-Obama elections, red), Florida (6 of last 10 pre-Obama elections, red) and Nevada (6 of last 10 pre-Obama elections red), and made North Carolina competitive. Obama won 26 states and the District of Columbia, including seven of the nine largest states.”
*Emphasizing that Obama won by smaller margins in 2012 than in 2008 is misleading, Goldstein argues, because a big chunk of Obama’s 2008 victory was a direct repudiation of the immediate past mistakes and failures of Pres. Bush (Iraq War, tanking economy). After three years of slow economic growth, the voters were not just being asked “do you want to do something different from what Bush did,” but “do you want Obama to keep doing what he has been doing.” If that’s true (which I don’t claim to know), it would translate more directly into a mandate for the policies on which Obama ran.
“The issues were publicly aired. Obama and the Democrats won the vote. Not in a landslide, but very impressively. The people have spoken. Elections are supposed to have consequences. It’s time to move in a direction consistent with these facts.”
Personally, I’m not sure I’m that much of a mandate believer any more. I’ll try to write a bit more about why in a future post.