Despite resounding progressive victories last night, conservative pundits continue to repeat the myth of a conservative country. Right-wing pundit Robert Novak climbed aboard the bandwagon, writing today that neither the large Democratic gains nor Obama’s sweeping popular and electoral vote margins were proof of a mandate:
The first Democratic Electoral College landslide in decades did not result in a tight race for control of Congress. [...]
[Obama] may have opened the door to enactment of the long-deferred liberal agenda, but he neither received a broad mandate from the public nor the needed large congressional majorities.
Novak dismissed Democratic congressional gains, noting that they “fell several votes short of the 60-vote filibuster-proof Senate.” However, in 2004 — as President Bush crowed about his “political capital” — Novak didn’t hesitate to agree that Bush’s comparatively narrow victory was proof of a conservative mandate, in a CNN interview just days after the election:
Q: Bob Novak, is 51 percent of the vote really a mandate?
NOVAK: Of course it is. It’s a 3.5 million vote margin. But the people who are saying that it isn’t a mandate are the same people who were predicting that John Kerry would win. … So the people who say there’s not a mandate want the president, now that he’s won, to say, Oh, we’re going to accept the liberalism that the — that the voters rejected. But Mark, this is a conservative country, and it showed it on last Tuesday. [11/06/04]
As of now, Obama’s popular vote margin stands at 7,401,289 — more than twice Bush’s 2004 vote margin — and Obama has netted 63 more electoral votes than Bush in 2004. In his column, Novak dismissed the Democratic Senate gains this year, even though they have netted five seats for a total of 56, with three more seats potentially up for grabs. By contrast, the conservatives’ so-called 2004 “mandate” netted only four new seats for a total of 55.