What Is Donald Trump’s Mandate?

He won the Electoral College, but not the popular vote

President-elect Donald Trump, his wife Melania Trumpwalk to a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the U.S. Capitol for a meeting November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day president-elect Trump met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.

President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Donald Trump won the election with, assuming he does end up winning Michigan as appears to be the case, 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232.

Trump, however, lost the popular vote by (at the time of this writing) about 200,000 votes. This, naturally, led to a lot of Leftist outcries over Clinton being the “real” winner of the election, the person chosen by the people and not “the system.” This is a silly argument, as the popular vote is not what decides our electorate and therefore candidates do not campaign for it.

If Trump and Clinton campaigned in every state in the hopes of getting more people out to vote for them in total, there’s no guarantee Clinton would have actually won. Trump won the “popular vote” in 30 states plus part of Maine, which splits its electoral votes. Clinton only won the “popular” vote in 19 states plus part of Maine. But many of the states she won have massive populations—like California and New York—which helped her vote total.

That kind of proves the point of the Electoral College—to keep populous states from being able to pick the candidate every time, giving them more control over government.

Also, the popular vote was extremely close this election, with just a 0.02 percent difference. It’s not like Clinton overwhelmingly won the popular vote, which could send more of a message that the people decisively wanted her over Trump.

Still, Trump losing the popular vote will be a rallying cry for the Left over the next four years. There are already attempts to overturn the Electoral College and hand the presidency to Clinton.

In addition, Republicans maintained the House of Representatives and the senate, which is a bit more decisive of a victory than the slim margin of the popular vote. It wasn’t an absolute blowout (they lost seats in both houses), but they maintained control.

Had Clinton won, she likely would have had no mandate, as Republicans were projected to almost definitely keep the House and more likely than not keep the senate. It would have been tough for her to use President Barack Obama’s “I won. Deal with it” line when her party didn’t control the legislative branch (though that didn’t stop Obama from saying it when he didn’t have the House, or change his attitude when his party lost the senate).

Clinton wouldn’t have been able to pass anything without control of either chamber. We would quite literally be exactly where we are now, which I guess is what she campaigned on. She tried to present herself as a third Obama term, but somehow different and better. It didn’t work in a change election.

Trump’s party does have both the House and the senate. They’re already looking to repeal and replace Obamacare the way it was passed, through reconciliation. House Minority Leader Harry Reid also set a Republican congress up to pass a lot more bills since he blew up the filibuster. Democrats acceptance of executive and legislative overreach will make it much easier for Republicans under Trump to pass their agenda.

But without the commanding control Obama was given in 2008—the White House and veto-proof majorities in both the House and the senate—what is Trump’s mandate from the American people?

Definitely immigration reform including a border wall, as his campaign revolved around the “build the wall” promise. He also promised “big league” jobs and the restoration of American manufacturing and prosperity for the working-class. He’ll definitely have to deliver for him or he can kiss a second term goodbye. I would think trade would also fall in line with helping the working class.

On Wednesday I would have said repealing Obamacare would be a somewhat smaller issue than the others, but on Thursday Trump announced it would be one of his three top priorities. He talked about Obamacare on the trail, but not in depth like he did the border wall. The announcement just before the election that people faced a double-digit rate hikes brought Obamacare back to the top of voters’ minds, even though Trump didn’t make it central to his campaign.

I think, however, more than anything else, Trump’s mandate will truly be to “Make America Great Again,” and if he can’t improve the economy, he’ll be toast.

Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, publisher of Observer Media.

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