Great points to remember! From Media echoed conservative claim on Bush "mandate" [Media Matters for America]
With the exception of the 2000 election, Bush's popular vote margin of about 3.6 million votes (out of approximately 115 million total votes cast) was the smallest since 1976, when then-Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter (D) defeated President Gerald R. Ford (R) by about 1.7 million votes.
Though Bush won more votes -- 59.2 million -- than any presidential candidate in U.S. history, Kerry's vote total -- 55.7 million -- was still greater than any U.S. presidential candidate in history prior to 2004. That means more Americans cast their vote against Bush than against any other presidential candidate in U.S. history.
As Wall Street Journal Washington editor Albert R. Hunt pointed out (WSJ.com subscription required) on November 4, 'It was a GOP sweep, but it also was the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.'
Percentage-wise, Bush's victory was the narrowest for any wartime incumbent president in U.S. history. (For the purpose of this calculation, Media Matters for America counted the following presidential elections as wartime incumbent elections: 1848, 1864, 1900, 1944, and 1972. Popular vote data for 1812 is unavailable.)
A Gallup poll conducted just after the election found that 63 percent of voters would prefer to see Bush pursue policies that 'both parties support' compared to only 30 percent who want Bush to 'advance the Republican Party's agenda.'