The "mandate" is for the status quo of the United States.I wrote this in another thread:
First, I want to congratulate my American friends that you have elected a new President, even if it's the old one -- Obama has a clear mandate as it looks now, both winning the electoral and public vote. That's much better than more crap à la 2000, like an EV tie, endless recounts, debates about election fraud or a paradox of different EV and PV results. So, congratulations for a clear result!
My outside view on the election: I think most independent and centrist voters, even more centrist liberals, could have easily lived with a Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, who runs on a centrist platform, being ready for compromise on health care reform, civil rights "moral" issues such as abortion and so on. If Romney had presented himself with a platform as in his state, he might have easily won in a landslide, considering the disappointment in Obama on the side of centrists and liberals, and Obama's bad handling of debt and economy.
But what did the Republicans do? They ignored minorities, women and young people, almost exclusively focused on older white males. Both Tea Party and religious right have made the GOP their prey and even a moderate candidate like Romney had to pander to them. Instead of being ready for a healthcare compromise (Obama's plans were based on Romney's plan, after all, and did not differ much from ideas the Republicans had 15 years ago, so I read), they ran a course of hardcore far-right fundamentalist opposition in the House. And there were far-right candidates running on the GOP ticket, such as Todd Akin, and now we know that this approach mobilizes far more liberal opposition than it mobilizes the right-wing voters.
So there is hope the Republicans will do a critical analysis on their politics in the past few years, realize that the voters don't like it when they place the party above the country by being uncompromising, that they can't win elections anymore by alienating women and minorities with far-right positions (especially Hispanics could easily be won over by the GOP, if they stopped needlessly alienating them). That elections are won in the center, not on the fringe.
I'm sure there are not few voters who voted for Obama, not so much because they are convinced of Obama so much, but because they were very afraid of a Republican pandering to religious fundamentalist, with people like Todd Akin in his baggage, someone who says he doesn't care about 47% of the voters. Without this right-wing fundamentalism, they would have voted for a genuinely moderate Republican by default.
My two cents.
Reciting all the media crap is pointless. We all hear it. The FACT is that Americans voted against any change from the status quo other than to expand the direction it is headed already. This was an anti-change win.