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They Don't Need Your Approval

September 18, 2008

THE PRESIDENT’S job approval ratings have been hovering around 33% for a while now. Let’s crunch that:

The polls usually cover “adults,” (though sometimes “registered voters.”) Using 2004 Numbers (pdf) there are about 196 million adult US citizens. This is your “electorate.”

33% of 196 million is 64.7 million. 64.7 million adult US citizens approve of the job the president is doing.

Bush got 62.0 million votes in the 2004 presidential election.

“33%?! That’s only 64.7 million people. This guy clearly does not have a mandate from The People!”

“A mandate from The People it isn’t. Nor does it matter. Apples to oranges, that’s still more support than he needed in the last election.”

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4 Comments
  1. MR Bill permalink
    September 18, 2008 7:10 PM

    Ah, but has he lost the Mandate of Heaven?

  2. September 24, 2008 12:37 AM

    “that’s still more support than he needed in the last election”

    That’s some faulty logic. Sure, more people are supporting him now than back then, but far more people are actively against him. He has less support, as a function of the total population that matters (voters).

    If you randomly polled people you worked with, and of those who actually gave you an answer 3 liked you and 3 didn’t, then some time later you polled again and 5 liked you and 10 didn’t, would you really say you’re in a better position now?

    Sure, the people who like you enough to respond has increased by 66%, but the people who who actively hate you has increased by 100%. If what matters is a “mandate”, which by definition relies on the support of the people as a whole, then you’re in WORSE shape than before, not better, since the numbers aligned to work against you have become even more overwhelming when compared to your support.

    To go back to your election comment, these numbers mean that if another election were held today, he wouldn’t win by 1%, he’d be bounced out of office by a huge margin.

  3. September 24, 2008 8:19 AM

    That’s some faulty logic: Hence the “apples to oranges” disclaimer. I readily agree that number of people who support the president, and the number of voters who support the president are very different beasts.

    The (intended) thrust of the post being: this is a republic, not a democracy. It doesn’t matter that our rulers don’t have broad support from their subjects. One can become emperor with the votes of only 30% of the electorate, and one can operate very effectively (in a sense) in office with the support of only 33% (or even less!) of the people. Hence the post title.

    Not that this is especially germane to this discussion, but as an aside, I’m noticing that the majority of my posts of late can divided into two categories:

    1. Hey, The People don’t have any meaningful power whatsoever in our system. (Or: everything I learned in Civics class was a lie!) This is not democracy!

    or

    2. Hey, institutions are amoral and (inevitably?) prone to EVIL. Think about the people!

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