The Obama Mandate in Context

Hendrik Hertzberg decodes the numbers as the gap between Romney votes and Obama votes continues to grow:

With late returns still trickling in, his popular-vote margin now exceeds four million, a million more than George W. Bush amassed when he ran for reëlection. (Obama's electoral-college majority is also larger: 332 to Mitt Romney's 206, as against Bush's 286 to John Kerry's 251....)

In 2004, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, conservatism's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, congratulated President Bush for "what by any measure is a decisive mandate for a second term" and exulted, "Mr. Bush has been given the kind of mandate that few politicians are ever fortunate enough to receive." This year, examining similar numbers with different labels, the Journal came up with a sterner interpretation. "President Obama won one of the narrower re-elections in modern times," its editorial announced.
Meanwhile Dave Weigel notes that Romney seems set to get exactly 47 percent of the vote -- meaning, by his own standards, that either he persuaded no one or some of the makers are now running with the takers.


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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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