President Obama won about 51 percent of the popular vote. Eight years ago, President George W. Bush got the same percentage, and a number of observers expressed skepticism that it constituted a mandate.
Maybe peace would have broken out with a different kind of White House, one less committed to waging a perpetual campaign--a White House that would see a 51-48 victory as a call to humility and compromise rather than an irrefutable mandate.At The Washington Post, E.J. Dionne wrote:
With all his failures, Bush could not count on a whole lot more than 51 percent. Karl Rove and company calculated perfectly, organized painstakingly, greatly increased conservative turnout and produced a country divided just their way.
The opposition should not crawl into a hole or be silent about these things. A decent respect for the outcome of an election never requires free citizens to cower before a temporarily dominant majority. There is, on the contrary, an obligation to stay engaged in a battle that, as John Edwards says, rages on.
Begin with the facts: A 51-48 percent victory is not a mandate.
You’re angry that Bush’s campaign of fear has set the stage for another four years of theocratic zealotry; you’re outraged that Republicans have seized on a slight 51 percent majority as a sweeping mandate for their radical agenda; you’re insulted by the rise of a news media that seems dedicated to lobotomizing the American public.At Democracy for America, Howard Dean wrote:
Four years ago, the President won 49 percent of the vote. The Republican Party treated it like it was a mandate, and we let them get away with it. 51 percent is not a mandate either. And this time we're not going to let them get away with it.At Knight Ridder, former House speaker Jim Wright wrote:
President Bush and his House and Senate party leaders would be well-advised not to presume that the 51 percent election victory in November amounted to a "mandate" for each of their pet projects and theories.At The St. Petersburg Times, Bill Adair wrote:
Some political analysts say it's an exaggeration to call 51 percent a mandate.
"The vote that Bush got is not a mandate," said historian Robert Dallek. "It's a far cry from a mandate."
Jennifer Duffy, an analyst for the Cook Political Report, joked that, "In the current environment, I guess 52 percent is almost a landslide."