There Is No Trump Mandate

Mainstream and conservative media figures are echoing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s assertion that President-elect Donald Trump has “earned a mandate” with his electoral victory. But Trump appears to have lost the popular vote, and he is the first presidential candidate to win the office without winning a majority of the votes since 2000.

Speaker Paul Ryan Claimed Trump Earned A Mandate In The Election

Speaker Paul Ryan: Trump “Earned A Mandate.” In his post-election speech, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Trump had “earned a mandate” after “he connected in ways with people that no one else did.”

“Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard,” Ryan said. “He connected in ways with people that no one else did. And now, Donald Trump will lead a unified Republican government.”

Ryan praised Trump for setting “the perfect tone last night” in his postelection speech, adding that Trump “earned a mandate” with his victory. [Business Insider, 11/9/16]

Conservative Media Echo Ryan’s False Mandate Claim

Fox News’ Sean Hannity: Trump “Has The Mandate.” From the November 9 edition of Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY: Bret Baier, they asked me to call in last night. So I called in, and he asked me, “Well, how is Donald Trump going to deal with House Republicans and Democrats?” And I said, “I don't think that's the question. I think it's -- how are they going to deal with him?” Because he will set the agenda. He has the mandate. Not those people that, in part, created the opening for him, I would argue. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/9/16]

Radio Host Rush Limbaugh: “Mandate” Behind GOP Control. Rush Limbaugh said the election results showed a “mandate” for the Republican Party.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: So now we have the House, and now we have the Senate, and now we have the White House -- and now we have no excuses. There aren't any excuses anymore. The Republican Party has been given the full reins of this government in this country, and there is a mandate behind it. There's nothing mysterious about this. There's nothing to unpack. There's nothing to try to understand. There's nothing confusing about it. It is dead straight simple what the American people voted yesterday and last night, and it is a full repudiation of Obamacare. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/9/16]

Fox News’ Monica Crowley: Protesters Trying To Distract From “The Narrative Of Trump’s Mandate.” Appearing on Fox Business’ Varney & Company, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said anti-Trump protesters “are trying to distract from the narrative of Trump’s mandate.”

MONICA CROWLEY: What we saw last night was sort of these half-hearted leftist protests in some major cities around the country. This was organized and funded by the far left, by people like George Soros, and the reason is because they are trying to distract from the narrative of Trump's mandate, his election to the presidency, and his agenda. They’re trying to take attention away from that. [Fox Business, Varney & Company, 11/10/16]

Townhall’s Katie Pavlich: “Republicans Now Have A Mandate.” From the November 9 edition of Special Report:

KATIE PAVLICH: The Republicans now have a mandate. We have a Republican in the White House. We have a Republican-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House. We have had divided government for a long time and as Paul Ryan said today they have a lot of good ideas on the table that they’ve been trying to get through that were obstructed by Harry Reid for years that they now are going to be able to push through as a result of this election. [Fox News, Special Report, 11/9/16]

Mainstream Media Uncritically Repeat Ryan’s False Mandate Claim

Reuters: “Trump’s Mandate.” Reuters referred to the election result as “Trump’s mandate” and discussed its possible effect on a legislative agenda.

It remains to be seen whether House Republicans view Trump's mandate as extending to other, prominent campaign promises. Trump staked much of his candidacy on opposing major trade deals, while Republicans have generally favored free trade. [Reuters, 11/9/16]

McClatchy: “Trump Gets A Mandate.” [McClatchy News, 11/8/16]

Financial Times: “Trump’s Win Is A Mandate To Blow Up Washington.” Writing at the Financial Times, Edward Luce said Trump’s “mandate is to blow up the system.”

The larger implications of Mr Trump’s election will take a while to sink in. Every pollster in the land misread the US public. By electing a man whom voters knew to be disrespectful of US constitutional niceties, America has dispatched the electoral equivalent of a suicide bomber to Washington. Mr Trump’s mandate is to blow up the system. [Financial Times, 11/9/16]

Matt Lauer: “Paul Ryan Says Trump Has A Mandate.” From the November 10 edition of Today:

MATT LAUER: Paul Ryan says Trump has a mandate. Even though he didn't win the popular vote, he obviously has the White House, the House and the Senate. Do Republicans have a mandate? [NBC, Today, 11/10/16]

Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich: “Right Now … Republicans Are Saying They Have The Mandate.” From the November 10 edition of New Day:

JACKIE KUCINICH: You know, it's hard -- so right now he has -- the Republicans are saying they have a mandate. So, in theory, do you try to start with the tough stuff first because you have that momentum. That said, the wall is sort of kind of a non-starter right now in the Congress. And some of his more controversial proposals aren't really going to go anywhere. So, it's going to be really interesting to see how he does this. [CNN, New Day, 11/10/16]

Trump Won Electoral College But Did Not Win A Majority Of The Vote; Electorate Does Not Support His Entire Agenda

Trump Appears To Have Lost The Popular Vote. From NPR:

As of midday Thursday ET, Clinton had amassed 59,938,290 votes nationally, to Trump's 59,704,886 — a margin of 233,404 that puts Clinton on track to become the fifth U.S. presidential candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election.

Neither candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote: As of noon Wednesday, Clinton stood at 47.7 percent and Trump at 47.5 percent. [, 11/9/16]

ABC: A Trump Failure To Win The Popular Vote “May Limit The Extent To Which Republicans Can Claim His Election As A Referendum On The State Of The Nation.” From ABC News:

If Trump does not win the popular vote, it may limit the extent to which Republicans can claim his election as a referendum on the state of the nation. Both candidates garnered less than 50 percent of the vote. [, 11/10/16]

Wash. Post: Republicans Planned To Challenge Clinton’s “Mandate” If She Lost The Popular Vote. From The Washington Post:

Having lost the election, Democrats are fumbling for ways to win its aftermath. The exit polls that explain Trump's victory, solidified by narrow wins in Rust Belt states, offer them an opportunity: Trump won the election despite a lower favorable rating, more voter angst about his agenda, and almost certainly a lower popular vote total than Clinton.


Until late Tuesday night, Republicans thought they might face a similar arrangement, and were preparing to challenge a President Clinton's “mandate” with investigations and holds on judicial nominees. It's not clear what Democrats can do with their available tools; it's only clear that they have the opportunity. [The Washington Post, 11/10/16]

U.S. News: Exit Polls Show An Issue “Muddle” From Voters On Trump’s Victory. From U.S. News & World Report’s Robert Schlesinger:

But “mandate” implies clarity, not muddle. And the voters were muddled. So easily the most important issue facing the country was the economy (52 percent thought so, with terrorism next at 18 percent), and Clinton won among “economy” voters by 10 percentage points (52-42) ... but voters overall thought that Trump would handle the economy better by a 49-46 margin. Conversely Trump demolished Clinton among those who identified terrorism as the country's most pressing problem, 57-39; but by a margin of 52-43 voters overall thought that Clinton would handle foreign policy better and 49-46 voters thought she would make a better commander-in-chief. [U.S. News & World Report, 11/10/16]

Ryan Denied Obama Had A Mandate Even When He Convincingly Won The Popular Vote

Speaker Paul Ryan Denied Obama Had A Mandate In 2012. After President Obama won the electoral college and 51 percent of the popular vote in 2012, Ryan denied that Obama had received a mandate from the electorate. From MSNBC’s Steve Benen:

First, while [Trump] obviously won the election, he also lost the popular vote. In other words, the nation was given a choice and more Americans chose Hillary Clinton. I’m not saying that undermines Trump’s legitimacy – we have an electoral-college system, for good or ill – but it does undermine Paul Ryan’s claims that voters handed Trump a mandate.

Second, the whole idea of a mandate applies to policy agendas, and by any fair metric, Donald Trump didn’t really have one. Indeed, the president-elect went out of his way during the campaign to reject substance and policy details, and he routinely took multiple sides to multiple issues. It’s hardly the stuff mandates are made of.

But even putting this aside, four years ago this week, Paul Ryan was asked, “Does Barack Obama now have a mandate?” The Wisconsin congressman replied, “I don’t think so.”

Remember, Obama had just won a second term with relative ease. He not only won the popular vote, he became one of only six presidents in American history to top 51% of the popular vote twice. In Paul Ryan’s mind, however, Obama didn’t earn a mandate, while Donald Trump, who received fewer votes than the Democrat, did.

It’s almost as if Republicans are playing some kind of “heads I win, tails you lose” sort of game and Ryan’s so-called principles shouldn’t be taken seriously. [, 11/9/16]