Scott Tibbs

On electoral mandates and winners overreaching

By Scott Tibbs, May 25, 2022

Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by 7,060,347 votes in the national popular vote, but 5,103,821 of that was in the state of California. When you take away California from both candidates, the margin across the other 49 states was much smaller. Biden won the Electoral College on the strength of very small margins in key states. One would think that this would serve to moderate Biden's policy agenda, but it has not.

Biden's narrow victory (outside of California and New York) should have made him realize the country did not want massive change. So should the circumstances of his victory: Unlike Barack Obama, Biden is not someone who inspires people to affirmatively vote for him. The vast majority of Democratic voters went to the polls to vote against Donald Trump, not for Joe Biden. This is why, without Trump to serve as a foil, Biden's approval numbers have fallen. This is why Biden has repeatedly attacked Trump and "MAGA" recently, in hopes of giving himself an opponent to run against.

Despite the closeness of the election and the face that basically half the country was going to oppose most of what he wanted to do, Biden pushed ahead with a very aggressive agenda anyway. His political misfortunes should serve as a lesson for both political parties: The American people generally do not want massive change. A few modest changes are acceptable, but they will react negatively to anything that greatly impacts their lives. Inflation and shortages have been Biden's greatest nemeses, not "the great MAGA king or "Ultra MAGA" or whatever name Biden has for his enemies.

It is probably too late for Biden to save his party in the 2022 mid-term election, but the election of a Republican Congress could be a benefit for him in two ways. First, it will serve as a roadblock to Biden's inflationary spending. Second, it will give Biden an opponent instead of full control over the federal government. The Republican Congress probably saved Bill Clinton's presidency in 1995, and that may work for Biden. But Biden will also need to back away from culture war issues for that to work.

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