Popular Vote 2012: Though Obama Won the Popular Vote, Lower Turnout Means No Mandate

Now that Florida has officially been called for President Barack Obama, enlarging both his Electoral College tally and popular vote advantage over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, we're closer to the definite popular vote number and what it will mean in terms of a mandate (if anything) for the newly reelected president. 

According to Politico, Obama won 62,154,025 popular votes over Romney's 58,798,935. This partial count shows that the president won roughly 3.3 million more popular votes than the former Massachusetts governor. Without counting all the third party candidates, this means that Obama is getting approximately 50%-51% of the popular vote to Romney's 48%-49%. 

And though Obama crushed Romney in the Electoral College count, the only measure that matters to decide who becomes president, Republicans will rightly argue Romney didn't end up as far behind when it comes to who Americans trusted with their votes to be the next Commander-in-Chief (after all, a healthy 58 million Americans voted for Romney's vision).

However, when it comes to define which party has a so-called "mandate" to leverage during the upcoming negotiations over the fiscal cliff, immigration and other pressing matters, both camps may be missing the mark. 

Though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) denies the 2012 election kept the status quo, and Speaker of the House of Representatives John Bohener (R-Ohio) claims the same voters who reelected President Obama decided to keep a Republican majority in Congress, the fact of the matter is that the 93 million voters that decided to sit the 2012 election out hardly mean either Democrats or Republicans have a mandate this year.  

Perhaps American voters (the ones who made it to the polls, anyway) decided to keep the status quo of a divided government in order to shake up the status quo of partisan gridlock in Washington. Will they, Democrats and Republicans, listen this time?