The only apt comparisons to the Biden-Harris law-and-policy agenda are the New Deal and the Great Society. But how does the political and popular mandate for the current administration’s agenda compare to those of these past programs?
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris purport both to rule expansively and permanently alter the country based on a mere 16/100 of one percent (.0016) of the total votes cast in the 2020 presidential election. That was the Biden-Harris total margin of victory in the three battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, with their 46 electoral votes—the same three states that decided the 2016 presidential election.
Indeed, with the already-passed $1.9T new COVID-plus spending law having now established direct federal payments to individuals as a routine practice; another $2T economy-altering legislation and spending plan with its applies-to-everything “infrastructure;” the issuance by Mr. Biden of more than sixty executive orders within a month of his ascendancy to the presidency; H.R.1’s intent to take over the federal regulation of all elections, federal, state, and local; the re-gendering of society with the Equality Act; the purpose of taking over the daily conduct of all state and local police forces with the George Floyd Police Reform Act; and the groundwork being laid for the complete federal takeover and daily regulation of health, education (including curriculum), and employment—that is, the areas of life that affect everyone personally everyday—the country is confronted with an agenda that is similar to the New Deal and the Great Society.
In addition, we have a President of the United States who has just excoriated Georgia for its new election law, describing it as “sick” and “un-American,” and launching a nationwide corporate boycott of that state; who has just restricted firearms (“just the beginning” he says) through executive order; and whose Transportation Secretary has just made it clear that every federally-funded highway will be subjected to a systemic racism critique. And coming not later but sooner: undermining the Senate filibuster; some version of court-packing; and the federal government having its own personal senators by means of statehood for the District of Columbia.
But what is both the political basis and the popular support for all this? That is, beyond the unanimity of the national media and the university-industrial complex?
Mr. Biden received 7,051,961 more popular votes and 74 more electoral votes than Donald Trump. Because there were two significant third-party presidential candidates—including the media-ignored libertarian candidate who received 1.9 million votes, that is more than one percent of the national popular vote—Mr. Biden received only 51.3 percent of the national popular vote, 81.3 million popular votes, along with 306 electoral votes. Trump received 74.2 million popular votes, 46.19 percent, and 232 electoral votes. The total popular vote was 157.8 million.
That marginal popular-vote victory is further qualified due to the fact that Mr. Biden’s total popular-vote margin of 7,090,008 in New York and California by itself was more than his national total popular vote margin. Thus, the aggregate popular vote for forty-eight of the fifty states (plus Washington, D.C.) was essentially even. And Messrs. Biden and Trump each won 25 states in the electoral college.
Looking at the three battleground states, with their total of 46 electoral votes, provides an additional and fundamental perspective. In Pennsylvania with its 20 electoral votes, Mr. Biden won 50.01 percent of the popular vote, and Mr. Trump 48.84 percent (with one other presidential candidate). Mr. Biden won the state by 80,555 votes—that is, by 1.16 percent of the total votes cast. In Michigan with its 16 electoral votes, Mr. Biden won 50.62 percent of the popular vote, and Mr. Trump 47.82 percent (with two other candidates). Mr. Biden won the state by 154,188 votes—that is, by 2.78 percent of all votes cast. In Wisconsin with its 10 electoral votes, Mr. Biden won a minority, 49.45 percent, of the popular vote, with Mr. Trump at 48.82 percent (with two other candidates). Mr. Biden won the state by 20,682 votes—that is, by less than one percent of all the votes cast.
Overall, in none of these three states did Mr. Biden receive 51 percent of the vote. His average for the three states was 50.03. His total popular-vote margin of victory for the three states that gave him the presidency was 255,425—that is, 16/100 (,0016) of one percent of the national popular vote. Needing 270 electoral votes to win and with 46 of his 306 electoral votes coming from these three states, that was the difference in Mr. Biden’s winning the presidency.
But let’s go ahead and look at the results in three other states as presidential-election-deciding “battlegrounds.” Mr. Biden won a minority of the popular vote in Arizona (49.36 percent) and Georgia (49.47 percent). And in Nevada, his margin was 50.06 percent. Those three states held a total of 33 electoral votes, and with slightly different popular-vote totals, Mr. Biden would have squeaked by with 273 electoral votes.
Thus, in each of a total of six states representing 79 electoral votes—29 percent of Mr. Biden’s winning total of 306—Mr. Biden had a popular vote margin of less than 51 percent. In three of the six, he received less than 50 percent of the popular vote. His popular vote average for the six states was 49.83 percent.
Turning to the Congress, with Republicans having gained 12 seats in the 2020 election, the Democratic House majority is now 222-213: that is, the Democrats have less than 51 percent of the House’s voting members. The Senate is split 50-50, with the two Georgia Senate runoffs—or even one of them—having created the current historically unprecedented status of American government of Vice President Harris having the daily and decisive power as president of the Senate (Art 1.3) in a manner never foreseen by the Founders. As for governorships, the Democrats now have 23, a decrease of one after the 2020 elections.
Concerning those Georgia Senate runoffs on January 5, which have already become one of the most consequential dates in American history, Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican David Perdue by 50.6 to 49.4 percent—that is, by a margin of 1.22 percent of the total 4,484,902, votes cast. And Democrat Raphael Warnock won 51 percent of the vote versus Republican Kelly Loeffler—that is, by a margin of 2 percent of the total 4,484,954 total votes cast.
The only apt comparisons to the Biden-Harris law-and-policy agenda are the New Deal and the Great Society, but there is no comparison as to the political and popular bases of these programs. Franklin Roosevelt received popular vote margins of 57.4 and 60.8 percent, respectively, in the 1932 and 1936 presidential elections, that is, for the years in which the entire New Deal, including social security, was enacted. In those eight years, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress by wide margins. As a result of the 1932 elections, Roosevelt came to power in 1933 with a Democratic majority in the Senate of 59-36 and in the House of 313-117, which, as a result of the 1936 elections, increased to majorities of 76-16 in the Senate and 333-89 in the House. As for the electoral college, he won 42 of the 48 states in 1932 and 46 of the 48 states in 1936.
And which set the stage for the Great Society. When he succeeded to the presidency in November 1963, Lyndon Johnson immediately inherited Democratic majorities: a two-thirds majority in the Senate and a 59-percent-majority in the House, which became a two-thirds Senate and House majority in the next Congress. Johnson received 61.1 percent of the popular vote and won 44 of the 50 states in the 1964 elections, the one presidential election in which he was a candidate. All the Great Society programs, including Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, and the civil and voting rights acts, were enacted between 1964 and 1968.
What will happen in the next “100 days” of the Biden-Harris Administration?
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