It's a time honored tradition for pundits -- before the counting is even done, the question is asked -- "but is it a MANDATE?!" Ah yes, the "mandate." The notion that a presidential victory could be so decisive that even the minority party would acknowledge the wisdom of the American electorate and be forced to back the President's policies.
Remember how, in 2000, after losing the popular vote, President Bush moved to the center and worked with Congress on a centrist agenda after he acknowledged that he lacked a "mandate"? Me neither.
Remember how, in 2008, after losing both houses (including a supermajority in the Senate) and the Presidency in a relative landslide the Republican minority decided not to obstruct the democratic agenda due to the "mandate"? Me neither.
The fact is that a "mandate" is a concept that died in the 80's. The pundits gotta get with the times. President Obama doesn't have a mandate because mandates exist in the land of rotary dial phones and vacuum tube TVs. They might as well exist in the land of unicorns and fairies.
But that doesn't stop the pundits. They are all over the networks warning Obama not to lead as though he has a mandate. Ask yourselves this -- if, God forbid, Romney had won the popular vote by over 3 million and colored a map red to include over 330 EVs, would the media be warning him not to govern as though he had a mandate? Get serious. It would be a "landslide," a "wave election," and most importantly a "mandate." The media would be wrong, though. Mandates don't exist anymore. Victories sure do though. Elections have consequences. How sweet it is.