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Monday, November 17, 2008

Where's Obama's 'mandate'?

Another Obama item for today from the Pittsburg Tribune-Review:
Watching CNN's Wolf Blitzer add up the numbers on that night, you'd get the idea that a massive turnout of dramatically energized and newly liberal voters had produced an Obama landslide.

In fact, despite the pictures of four-hour lines at the polls, American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate reports that voter turnout in this year's election was the same in percentage terms as it was four years ago --- or at most had risen by less than 1 percent.

"Between 60.7 percent and 61.7 percent of the 208.3 million eligible voters cast ballots this year, compared with 60.6 percent of those eligible in 2004," reports Curtis Gans, the director of the university's center.

In both years, in short, some 40 percent of those eligible to vote didn't show up at the polls, with Republicans, in particular, taking a none-of-the-above stance this year and staying home.

"A downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls seemed to be the primary explanation for the lower than predicted turnout," states the American University report. "Compared to 2004, Republican turnout declined by 1.3 percentage points to 28.7 percent."
As far as Electoral Vote Obama certainly crush McCain but as happens since we have an Electoral College that formally elects the President the popular vote totals doesn't always match up. I suppose that's OK, but the fact is there isn't a great popular mandate for the President-elect. Perhaps that'll come when he runs for re-election four years from now.

Read this previous post about this subject here and then....

Have you forgotten about The Movie Cabinet. I posted a fun piece about Obama over there.

I found this column via RealClearPolitics.

ADDITION: This post from Mechanics says that Obama did indeed win a mandate. I suppose I can agree it has nothing to do with the popular votes but in some of those red states he had flipped to win such as Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

Still I wonder if this victory is truly transformational...
The much more salient point is whether the 2008 election was politically transformative in the way that Franklin Roosevelt's election was in 1932. And what was transformative about FDR's election, you might ask? Well, it wasn't his margin of victory or even the innovative policies he implemented once in office. It was the way in which his election shifted the political allegiances of whole demographic groups across the country, ushering in nearly 40 years of Progressive policy-making and Democratic electoral dominance. The answer to this second question is more complicated but here are some very encouraging signs, at least from this Progressive's point of view.
There's a lot of information in this piece so do read on, there!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Bush claimed a mandate on less. And yes, Obama did switch several Bush states this time around ... and earned a higher popular vote percentage than Bush in 2004.

I think the mandate is revealed more in what a president is able to accomplish.

Despite having a GOP-controlled House and Senate, Bush in 2004 and 05 wasn't able to accomplish much of what he claimed was a mandate.

On the other hand, Obama has clear support (based on independent polling) for reform on several fronts: Iraq, healthcare, taxes, green energy, etc.

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