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.


Presented by

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.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Politics

From This Author

Just In