Monday, November 15, 2004

Bush Mandate?

What is a mandate? provides the following definitions:
  1. An authoritative command or instruction.
  2. A command or an authorization given by a political electorate to its representative.
  3. A commission from the League of Nations authorizing a member nation to administer a territory.
  4. A region under such administration.
  5. An order issued by a superior court or an official to a lower court.
  6. A contract by which one party agrees to perform services for another without payment.

But in American politics, the term refers to the popular consent of the public manifested through a national election for the presidency and congress. As we learn of more Bush cabinet resignations this week, and today's resignation of Secretary of State (SOS) Colin Powell, it is best to remember that President Bush has claimed he was given a mandate from the 2004 election. Let's put this in perspective, shall we?

The following sample of recent federal elections show the winner's total count margin over the major party challenger and the more important margin of victory in the electoral college:

  • 1976 Jimmy Carter +1,682,790 votes/+57 electoral votes
  • 1980 Ronald Reagan +7,407,813 votes/+440 electoral votes
  • 1984 Ronald Reagan +16,877,890 votes/+512 electoral votes
  • 1988 George H.W. Bush +7,077,023 votes/+310 electoral votes
  • 1992 Bill Clinton +5,805,344 votes/+202 electoral votes
  • 1996 Bill Clinton +8,203,602 votes/+220 electoral votes
  • 2000 George Bush -543,895 votes/+5 electoral votes
  • 2004 George Bush +3,359,939 votes/+20 electoral votes (totals not yet determined)

Clearly, the popular use of "mandate" shows that since 1976, George Bush the Second won with the slimmest total count margin since Jimmy Carter, and with fewer electoral votes than any other president in the last thirty years, save his dubious win in 2000.

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