During the November 18 edition of ABC's This Week, conservative Washington Post columnist George Will suggested that the tax policy of House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has a weightier mandate than President Obama's proposals because Republicans retained a majority in the House in the 2012 elections. In fact, Democratic House candidates received more votes than Republicans, who retained a majority largely because of widespread gerrymandering.
According to Will, House Republicans possess a greater mandate because “almost every member of John Boehner's caucus won his or her seat by a much bigger margin than Mr. Obama won his renewed term.”
GEORGE WILL: The President denounced the House Republicans across this country as obstructionists. The country said, “We hear you,” and they sent them back to continue being a brake on the President. And almost every member of John Boehner's caucus won his or her seat by a much bigger margin than Mr. Obama won his renewed term.
In making this comment, Will joined a chorus of right-wing media figures who have denied an Obama mandate in the wake of his electoral victory. During the November 7 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Dick Morris claimed that Obama does not have a mandate because “he is the first President of the United States ever to be re-elected by less than he got elected by.” The same day, The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote that “Speaker John Boehner can negotiate knowing he has as much of a mandate as the President.”
These claims ignore that the continued Republican majority in the House is the result of favorable redistricting rather than the will of the people.
According to The Washington Post, Democratic candidates captured 49 percent of the popular vote in House races compared to the Republican's 48.2 percent. Still, Republicans will fill at least 30 more seats than Democrats during the 113th Congress.
The cause of this conflicting result largely stems from a Republican takeover of many state legislatures -- which are responsible for drawing congressional districts in most states -- during the 2010 midterm elections. A post-election analysis by Mother Jones demonstrates just how many seats can be gained from gerrymandering.
According to the magazine, while Republican and Democratic House candidates received roughly the same number of votes in Pennsylvania, approximately three-quarters of that state's congressional delegation will be comprised of Republicans. Republicans also won House seats out of proportion to the popular vote in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan. Democrats will have oversized delegations in Maryland and Illinois due to Democratic gerrymandering in those states.