Is there any evidence to suggest that, all things being equal, a US president who wins election by a greater margin of the popular vote is able to push his/her agenda further or govern more effectively than one who wins by a narrower margin?

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    Yes. When the rest of the politicians see than a president, for example, wins in a landslide, they start to think of their own careers and how best to keep them. Working against a popular candidate could hurt them.
    – acpilot
    Nov 6, 2016 at 15:59

2 Answers 2


Historically, a greater margin of victory in the popular vote does not seem to create tangible political capital. While victorious Presidential candidates often deploy rhetoric claiming such mandates, a 1990 overview of the evidence published by the Academy of Political Science (accessible here: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2150822) argues the President mandate is a myth as most empirical and qualitative research has falsified this hypothesis.

  • That may be true historically. But now, after 1990, it seems true to some large extent on the federal level. Look at presidential and senate races over the past twenty years. The concept of red states and blue states only really developed circa 2000. Electoral maps after that usually look very similar for president. Sep 1, 2020 at 19:50

Not necessarily though it is usually the case. For example, excluding faithless electors and hanging chads, look at this.

Gore -- 50.3% of two party vote and 267 electors. H Clinton -- 51.1% of two party vote and 232 electors.

Nowadays that is true for the most part, at least for the first two years.

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    It's unclear how you can answer a question about presidential mandate with examples of people who did not become president. Sep 1, 2020 at 19:52
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    That makes sense. But they did win the most votes, didn't they? And, that was an example that things aren't 100% correlated. Sep 1, 2020 at 20:30

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