Another measure of the


Another measure of the Bush landslide.

President Bush won reelection last Tuesday with 286 electoral votes (over Kerry’s 252).

That is the second lowest electoral margin for the winning candidate since 1916 when Woodrow Wilson beat Charles Evans Hughes by a margin of 277 to 254.

(ed. note: Between 1900 and 1912, the size of the electoral college went from 447 to 531 — only seven fewer than there are today. So comparisons to elections more than one hundred years ago don’t work unless the electoral spread is judged in percentage terms.)

And what was the lowest margin? President Bush four years ago with 271.

Now, having said this, I don’t want to give people the impression that I’m ignoring the reality of the Republican victory. I’m not. To me, the most troublesome sign about last week’s results for the Democrats was less the presidency than the losses in the Senate. And the issue there is what I would call the continuing geographical elasticity of the Republican coalition and the relative inelasticity of the Democrats’. (Ed Kilgore has a good discussion of the reasons for hope and worry in this post at his NewDonkey site today.)

We’ll be talking more about that. But what I mean by that clunky phrasing is that Republican senators can still often run and win in blue states despite the unpopularity of the national Republican party in those states. But Democrats have a far harder time doing the same thing — as Daschle, Bowles, Tenenbaum, Castor and Knowles found out to their dismay.

This is not simply a matter of bad candidates or poorly waged campaigns. It’s a pattern that Democrats need to grapple with — and, unfortunately, it’s one that echoes into national and House elections as well.

That aside, Republicans are pushing this decisive victory meme to create a climate of presidential entitlement, an atmosphere in which President Bush not only won the presidency but with it an effective right to dictate the terms of major legislation because of the scope and breadth of his victory.

Given that fact, it seems worth pointing out that this election, rather than being a decisive win or a “landslide“, was actually, by every objective measure, one of the half dozen or so closest presidential contests in modern American history, along with 1876, 1916, 1960, 1968 and 1976.