Saturday, October 27, 2012

Minority president

By Mustang Bobby

Although I don't think it's going to happen, the Villagers are positing that the election could be close enough that Barack Obama could lose the popular vote but win the Electoral College. And they predict consternation if that happens.

One such Villager is Karen Tumulty in The Washington Post:

A win in the electoral college that is not accompanied by one in the popular vote casts a shadow over the president and his ability to govern.

If Obama is re-elected that way, "the Republican base will be screaming that Romney should be president, and Obama doesn't represent the country," McKinnon predicted. "It's going to encourage more hyperpartisanship."

Josh Marshall has a response: Spare me.

Now, the possibility of election without a national majority exposes a genuine glitch in our system. No doubt. It is also true that these are the rules we play under and there is little reason to think that we'd have just the same result if both candidates were trying to maximize raw vote nationwide. Think how many more votes both candidates would mobilize in New York, California and Texas — not to mention among African-American voters in hopelessly red states in the South. But mainly to those making these arguments I would make the following points: Get over it and most of all STFU.

When a president wins election but doesn't win with a majority of the popular vote (vide Richard Nixon in 1968, Bill Clinton in 1992), he's called a minority president and it's supposed to force him into building a coalition with the other party because he's perceived as not being a strong leader. (In Mr. Obama's case, "minority president" has a little more meaning.) But that didn't happen with Mr. Nixon or Mr. Clinton. They took the oath. They're in the Oval Office. They've got the launch codes.

The last president to lose the popular vote and win the election was George W. Bush in 2000. Not only were the Republicans perfectly happy with that outcome — we heard a lot of "Get over it and most of all STFU" from them — Mr. Bush went ahead and governed as if he had won in a landslide.

It's all a matter of perception. Act like you won big and people will think you did. As for the talk of "hyperpartisanship," all I can say is welcome back to Earth and did you enjoy your four years in the Delta Quadrant?

I would much rather that Barack Obama wins both the popular vote and the Electoral College (and Nate Silver is saying his chances are good that he will), but if he is a minority president, I hope he governs like he beat the snot out of them. The GOP will richly deserve it.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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