Do you hear that? It’s the steady hum of bought-and-paid-for pundits, political operatives, and far-right hacks proclaiming Obama’s re-election didn’t come with a mandate.
This would be funny if it weren’t so matter-of-factly hypocritical and wrong. After Bush’s narrow re-election in 2004, the GOP and far-right media claimed the American electorate handed them a mandate, and the mainstream media echoed this claim without nary a peep. This cycle, the right-wing media – along with the Romney/Ryan ticket – heralded the 2012 elections as one of “big ideas.” Indeed, what voters were left with was a choice between two starkly different visions for our country: “you’re on your own” vs. “we’re in this thing together.”
America voted for the latter, and now the far-right is working to rob us of that mandate.
First, President Obama won re-election with 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206 electoral votes. In any other media environment this would be considered a landslide. Moreover, Obama won 50.55% (62,149,499 votes) of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 47.82% (58,789,815) of the vote. While this seems like a narrow victory, it’s not, as securing over 50% of the popular vote twice has only been done by four presidents (Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Obama), as pointed out by conservative columnist Bill Kristol:
Shortly after Obama’s election in 2008, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proclaimed that his number one goal was to make Obama a one-term President. His second goal? Securing a Republican majority in the United States Senate. He failed on both counts.
Which brings us to our second point: in what was supposed to be a pick-up year for Republicans in the Senate, they actually ended up losing two seats in Republican dominated states (Indiana and Missouri). That’s right: two.
Third, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and Michigan House of Representatives actually garnered more total votes than their Republican counterparts as shown in the table below:
So why aren’t Democrats the majority party in the state and federal House? Simple: gerrymandering. Or if you’re the party in power: redistricting. After each census the State Legislature redraws districts (both State House and Congressional Districts) based on the new population totals. Unfortunately, this time-honored American tradition is controlled by the party in power, which in this case is the GOP. So in 2010, Republican dominated state legislatures redrew favorable districts for themselves at the state and national level.
So next time someone says there isn’t a mandate to raise taxes on the wealthy, provide access to affordable healthcare, pass immigration reform, or increase funding for our education system, kindly remind them they’re wrong.