The GOP Has Something Better Than a ‘Mandate’

by David French

Donald Trump’s popular vote deficit is growing. As of today, he’s losing to Hillary Clinton by more than 2 million votes, a massive deficit for an electoral college winner. But should it impact how he governs? Should he be chastened by the deficit and therefore modest in his policy aims? Writing today in The Nation, John Nichols exhaustively chronicles the scale of Trump’s popular vote loss and decries the Republicans’ “delusions of electoral grandeur.” The Republicans, he says, “cannot claim a mandate.” 

Or can they? Trump wasn’t the only Republican on American ballots, and the Republican House currently enjoys a whopping 3.2 million national popular vote majority over their Democratic counterparts (so much for the notion that the House majority depends entirely on gerrymandering). Moreover, a red tide has swept the states, leaving the Democratic Party’s fortunes at their lowest ebb in generations. This chart, from the Washington Post, documents the stunning decline:

In fact, the Republicans have something better than an ephemeral “mandate” (whatever that means), they have legislative votes — lots and lots of legislative votes. While any political party should be wary of triumphalism and overreach, the GOP doesn’t have to make the case for a mandate. It merely has to vote. 

Again, this isn’t an argument for a national conservative ”cramdown,” where the GOP eschews any efforts at compromise and squanders its majorities in the same way the Obama Democrats squandered their own electoral victories. Prudence is necessary, but the GOP has the votes top to bottom in the American electoral system. That’s not a delusion of grandeur, it’s a statement of blunt electoral fact. 

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