Joe Biden has won an impressive victory in the 2020 elections. Donald Trump is only the fourth elected President in 108 years to be rejected by the voters in a bid for a second term. What that means is that Biden has joined a group of very talented politicians: Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
What makes Biden’s win even more impressive is that the GOP was ousted from the White House after holding it for only one term. The only other incumbent president who suffered a similar fate was Jimmy Carter in 1980. (Hoover and Bush 43 were both running for a fourth consecutive GOP term in the White House.) Voters usually give a party two terms in the White House to carry out its agenda.
It was also a good election cycle for the Democratic Party on the federal level. The Democrats have held on to their House majority and still have a shot at taking the U.S. Senate. Control of the U.S. Senate will be decided by two run off contests in Georgia on January 5, 2021.
Joe Biden’s margin of victory is also imposing. The President-elect will eventually win the popular vote by a 52% to 47% margin and win the electoral college by a 306 to 232 margin. Biden’s electoral edge is more impressive than any GOP presidential election “win” since Bush 41 beat Dukakis by a 426–112 margin in the electoral college in 1988. Joe Biden can rightfully claim to have a mandate to govern the country.
Surely, Republicans will scoff at the notion that Biden’s win was momentous and constitutes a mandate. Let’s take a little trip down memory lane and explore recent GOP “victories” in presidential elections in the Bush 43 and Trump era.
In 2000, Bush “defeated” Gore in the electoral college 271 to 267 and lost the popular vote 48.5% to 48%. (The real margin in 2000 was 5–4. I digress.) Four years later, Bush won the popular vote 50.7% to 48.3% and prevailed in the electoral college 286 to 252.
In 2016, Trump “won” the electoral college 306 to 232 and lost the popular vote 48% to 46%. The former TV reality star’s electoral college margin was 46 out of 58 in U.S. history and only two previous presidents did more poorly in the popular vote.
Despite these poor showings in 2000, 2004 and 2016, the Republicans asserted that they won big and had a mandate from the people.
In early 2001, Dick Cheney rejected the notion that Bush should compromise on his sweeping agenda in light of the controversial nature of his so-called victory: “Our attitude was hell no. We got elected. You don’t go for half tax reform. We’re not going to leave half the children behind. No, it’s full speed ahead.”
Four years later, after he defeated John Kerry, Bush and his allies claimed a mandate for his agenda — including the privatization of Social Security. “I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it,” Bush told reporters. “It is my style.”
Fox News personality Fred Barnes declared the Republican’s win a “3-point landslide,” adding: “I think he’s got a mandate. “ Influential conservative columnist and Fox News star Charles Krauthammer was equally bold: In 2004, he noted that Bush had gotten to 50% of the vote, “unusual in our time… you’ve got a mandate.”
It probably doesn’t surprise anybody to remember that Trump and his followers made even more laughable claims about his illegitimate “win” in the 2016 election.
“We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College. I guess the final numbers are now at 306,” Trump asserted. Kelly Anne Conway tweeted: 306. Landslide. Blowout. Historic. Then RNC Chair and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus claimed: “And look what happened on Tuesday. I mean, it was an electoral landslide and the American people agreed that Donald Trump’s vision for America is what this country has been waiting for.”
Those ridiculous claims were just the tip of the iceberg. Trump tweeted numerous times about his so-called “victory” in 2016:
Using the Republicans’ own criteria and statements, there is no doubt that Biden won big and can rightfully claim a mandate.
I want to thank everybody who ran for office this year and/or contributed in some way to a campaign. You can claim credit for this great victory.
We can take a little time off now but our work is never done. We are in the current predicament because millions of Democrats stayed home or voted third party in 2010, 2014 and 2016. We can’t make that mistake again. We must remain energized. When Democrats vote, Democrats win!