I wanted to write as a loyal reader to let you know how I feel about Republican attempts to characterize George Bush’s election victory as a “mandate.” The truth of the matter is that the election illustrated exactly the opposite--that the nation is bitterly divided and that no mandate exists for an extreme conservative agenda.
When Richard Nixon won re-election over George McGovern in 1972, he carried 61 percent of the popular vote and captured the Electoral College 520-17.
In 1984, when the incumbent Ronald Reagan defeated Walter Mondale, he took 59 percent of the popular vote and carried the Electoral College 525-13.
Those elections, it is fair to say, produced mandates for Republican Presidents, as well as political capital to be spent during their second terms.
But with 51 percent of the popular vote and a 286-252 win in the Electoral College—in which President Bush won the decisive state, Ohio, so narrowly that the result was not yet clear on election night—the Republicans are claiming an obviously non-existent mandate. This is, of course, a political ploy intended to exaggerate the nation’s level of support for the President’s policies and proposals. But I think as a news organization, you have a responsibility to differentiate between the actual vote tally and the rhetoric of the Republican spin machine.