Yes, Trump won the vote and will be the next president. No, Trump did not get a mandate, whatever that means. Let’s take a look at the numbers. While Trump has clearly won the electoral college count, his share of the popular vote is below 50%. On top of that there is a decent chance Hillary will win a larger share of the popular vote. As of now its stands at 58.88 million for Hillary and 58.84 million for Trump http://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president . The count is by no means over but there are not a lot of votes left – mostly from the west coast liberal bastions of CA, OR, & WA. At best, the popular vote is tied.
But, you might say, didn’t Trump bring in new voters and expand the map for the GOP? Well, not so much. He did flip states like WI, OH, and PA, but let’s look at the numbers again. In 2012 Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney by a popular vote of 65.9 million to 60.9 million. In 2008, John McCain received 59.9 million votes. Even though Trump won, he had fewer votes than either Romney or McCain. All of this happened while Trump was running against the weakest Democrat since Dukakis. Hillary severely lacked charisma and was the most corrupt presidential candidate since Nixon. Face it, she makes Nixon look like Pope John Paul II. Yet she still probably won the popular vote.
And Trump did not have any coat tails that benefited down ticket Republicans. The GOP lost one seat in the Senate which was fine because they were facing difficult odds. But even in the House, GOP control decreased by 7 members. That is a huge contrast to 2008 when Obama swept in 8 Democrat Senators and 21 members of the House.
How about all those great things that Trump will do? One of his most economically dangerous policies is the attack on free trade. That is probably a big factor in winning those rust belt states, but those jobs are not going to magically appear once a trade war breaks out. Even if there are any short-term benefits the long-term risks more than out weigh them. The long term price for winning the old manufacturing states might be very high.
How about the fight to replace Scalia? That will be tough will a slimmer GOP Senate. We should be worried about the Democrats filibustering any decent conservative Supreme Court nominee. Will the old guard GOP be willing to go nuclear? Will Trump push them? Will he use his charm and charisma to make friends, or will he still be plotting take revenge on those GOP Senators who didn’t bow low enough to him? Ironically those of the ones more likely to throw the filibuster overboard.
In the end, Trump’s victory is a lot like Trump. There is a lot less there than meets the eye.