Sunday, November 14, 2004

Defining a mandate 

Triumphalist righties have been arguing that the President's margin of victory in the popular vote amounts to a "mandate." Apart from spin benefit, I've not been sure what that claim is supposed to achieve, except perhaps to claim the high ground on initiatives that the White House might propose and Congress might oppose. But what if the Democrats have their own mandate in the Senate? Brendan makes the interesting point that the Democrats had a margin of victory in the aggregate popular vote for the Senate that is comparable to Bush's in the presidential race. But is this a valid comparison? After all, the aggregate popular vote for the Senate addresses only 33 or 34 states, not 50. Obviously, if these races were distributed more disproportionately among "blue" jurisdictions, Brendan's point would prove exactly nothing. However, if they were disproportionately in "red" states, Brendan would be on to something. On this Sunday morning I lack the energy to figure out whether the distribution of those votes nationally supports Brendan's argument or undercuts it. Maybe I'll update later.


By Blogger Brendan, at Sun Nov 14, 06:50:00 PM:

You make some valid points there. Also, many of the marquee Senate races this time around, at least the closer ones, were in red and swing states--Florida, Alaska, Oklahoma, Colorado, the Carolinas, South Dakota, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Okay okay, so the Republicans won most of those. But they were close, while most of the solid-blue state races were snoozers (the closest ones were Boxer and Feingold, both of whom won comfortably).

I guess the greatest irony in this is that we're both trying to divine the implications of the national popular vote in the Senate, the most disproportionately-weighted parliamentary body in all of world politics.  

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