Bush still does not have a broad mandate for change.
Why you're right:
1. 51% of the vote is not a broad mandate. While the margin of “victory” was greater in this election than in 2000, 51% is still not a large majority of the country and was the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916. The states Bush captured in this election were really not very different from what he captured in 2000, showing that he has not captured the “broad nationwide victory” that Vice President Cheney has claimed. Bush’s support still represents a certain section of the population and excludes many urban areas, minorities, and women. (CNN, Wall Street Journal, Asia Times, ABC)
2. A vote for Bush was not one for change. The Bush team associated stability, continuity, and the expected with George W. Bush. Never mind that Bush’s first term provided anything but stability, launching the United States into a war in Iraq with no end in sight. (Cincinnati Post, MSNBC)
3. Republicans recognize Bush’s limited victory. Senator Arlen Specter, now the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned President Bush against putting forth judicial nominees who are overly conservative and may overturn Roe v. Wade. Lacking the support of almost half the nation, Bush will have to moderate his conservative agenda. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Why they’re wrong:
Bush would have claimed a mandate for change no matter what his margin of victory was. His speech in 2000 sounded very much like his speech yesterday, pledging to serve and unite the nation, not one specific party. But, he took his 2000 minority popular vote as a clear mandate for change and invaded Iraq, attempted to ban same-sex marriage, and passed tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, without any thought of the majority who did not elect him. With a slightly higher percentage of votes this time around, but still not a broad coalition, there is little expectation that he will act any more moderately. (CNN)