03 November 2004

No, There Isn't a Mandate

The Perfesser opines:

President Bush won an absolute majority of the popular vote, something Bill Clinton never achieved, thereby erasing any doubts as to his legitimacy. In addition, while it may be true that we are still a polarized nation, my side has emerged with a clear majority.

With all due respect, Perfesser, that's incorrect. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, with 99% of precincts reporting nationwide, President Bush garnered 58,640,761 popular votes—call it 59 million. That's not a majority by any stretch of the imagination. The Census Bureau estimates our population today at not quite 295 million; on that basis, less than 20% of the population voted for Bush. Those 18 and over (legal voting age) numbered just over 209 million at the 2000 Census, meaning 28% voted for Bush. That's not a "majority" by anybody's definition. It may be a plurality—and, in a voting-based system, that counts for something—but it's not a majority. And if there's one thing that we should have learned from the fiascos that the networks let themselves in for by relying on "exit polling," it's that there's not a good reason to claim that the voting proportions would hold given higher voter turnout. Voter turnout appears to have been under 60% of eligible voters.

Nonetheless, I join the Perfesser in schadenfreude at the current distress of Parisians over the election results. Not at the results; just at their arrogant, hypocritical distress.