President Obama is certain to do something that no president has done since Eisenhower. He is about to become the sixth president in history to be elected twice with 51% or more of the popular vote.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Obama’s margin has grown steadily. From just over 2 percentage points, it now stands at nearly 4. Rather than worry about the Bush-Kerry precedent, White House aides now brag that Obama seems all but certain to achieve a mark hit by only five others in U.S. history – winning the presidency twice with 51% or more of the popular vote.”
Currently, Obama sits at 50.97% of the popular vote, and Romney at 47.29% Since it is standard practice for totals to be rounded, Obama is already considered to have gotten 51% of the vote. With votes still left to be counted in New York and Hawaii, it is a virtual certainty that Obama’s straight percentage total of the popular vote will cross 51%.
Barack Obama will join a group of presidents that includes Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, FDR, and Dwight Eisenhower. To say that Obama is the most popular Democratic president, at least in terms of Election Day results, since FDR is no longer an understatement.
In terms of practical politics, you can see Obama’s strengthened political hand in the positions that he has been taking. From announcing that his administration won’t prosecute to recreational marijuana users in states that have decriminalized it to his strong stance on the fiscal cliff, Obama is governing like a popular second term president.
The concept of the popular mandate is invoked by every victorious president in order to give their agenda an aura of popular legitimacy. (George W. Bush claimed to have mandate after being reelected in 2004, and immediately crashed and burned when he tried to privatize Social Security.) However, President Obama’s mandate seems to be real on some very specific issues. Obama’s positions on job growth, stimulus, taxes, and the deficit were all thoroughly discussed during the campaign. Public supported sided with Obama on Election Day, and continues to be with him on these issues today.
Beyond history, the nation is witnessing a very effective presidency. Obama has already guaranteed that he will have more of lasting impact on the country than former popular two term presidents Reagan and Clinton ever did. If you don’t believe me, try to name a lasting impactful legislative accomplishment from either the Clinton or Reagan presidencies? You can’t, because there isn’t one. Neither president signed anything as comprehensive as healthcare reform, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, or did anything as socially sweeping as ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
In terms of legislative accomplishment, Obama is already in the upper tier of presidents. Now, he is joining even more select company as one of the most popular reelected president’s in U.S. history.
A presidency that started out as historic due to race, has become notable due to accomplishment. By winning reelection Obama proved to his critics that his election wasn’t a novelty. By winning reelection so convincingly, Obama is once again making history.