Thursday, November 8, 2012

Republican mandate?

Rep. John Boehner claimed on election night that the reelection of a Republican House majority told him that there is "no mandate for raising taxes."

Sen. Mitch McConnell also claimed that Republican voters delivered a mandate for the President (not Republicans) to change course, remarking "Now it’s time for the President to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office."

ThinkProgress, however, notes an interesting issue regarding the Republican House of Representatives.
Although a small number of ballots remain to be counted, as of this writing, votes for a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives outweigh votes for Republican candidates. Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million.

...The actual partisan breakdown of the 113th Congress will be very different, however. Currently, Republicans enjoy a 233-192 advantage over Democrats, with 10 seats remaining undecided. That means that, in a year when Republicans earned less than half the popular vote, they will control a little under 54 percent of the House even if Democrats run the table on the undecided seats.
Imagine, as looked possible last week, that President Obama had won reelection through an electoral vote victory but a popular vote loss of 590,000. What would Republicans be saying about his "mandate?"

Also, how does the Senate get to be "closely-divided" when Democrats and independents who caucus with the Democrats have 55 percent of the seats while the House is "Republican-controlled" with a similar majority of 55 percent of the seats?

Divided government is a reality, but it's hard to see much of a strong "mandate" for a party that represents a minority of Americans.

An additional lesson here is that non-partisan redistricting reform is sorely needed throughout the country.