My initial response to this tweet from Dave Weigel—as was the initial response by many conservatives—was to say "well, yes, that's true":
Clinton team should prepare for a post-election day narrative that she's a fluke president with no mandate apart from "she's not Trump."
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) October 13, 2016
I feel confident in believing that Hillary would've been beaten by Rubio or Kasich or Jeb and maybe even Cruz. Of course, we'll never know because the GOP handed the car keys over to a gibbering lunatic who wrapped the party car around a tree. (That analogy makes more sense when JVL is making it.) But given the fact that she had trouble putting away an aged caucasian commie stooge in the primary and was kind of treading water against Trump before the oppo dam broke, well, I think it's fair to say she would've struggled against a real politician whose biggest scandal involved speeding tickets or whatever.
So I think it's fair to say that Hillary's victory, on her own, would constitute no real "mandate." Even if she wins by 40 states. Even if she wins by 15 points. The fact that GOP Senate candidates have been routinely outpolling Trump—running well ahead in states he's close or losing—and that the House seemed out of reach until very recently all suggested that her success was, indeed, something of a fluke.
All that changes, of course, if a true rout of Trump corresponds with massive losses in the Senate and the House, one that brings about a party change in either or both chambers. Conservatives and Republicans are working their way through the grief cycle to acceptance on not winning the presidency—the ones tethered to reality are doing so, at least—because, honestly, what else can you do when you have a guy at the top of the ticket who is going to spend the next month getting lambasted for every manner of disgusting sexual behavior out there? As long as the House and the Senate are intact, there's a check on Clinton's ability to get, well, much of anything accomplished. And I don't, honestly, think the public would be too upset about that.
Then again, if the House and the Senate flip, well, what difference, at that point, would it make if she had a "mandate"? How would it be any different from her having one? Her party would have control of everything. Immigration reform, gun control, massive new taxes: you name it, they'd get it. The burn it down caucus should probably consider this when going on about the lack of fealty to Trump and how we need to throw the bums who refused to kowtow to him out.
So yeah, the narrative that Dave sketches out about GOP attacks on Clinton's imaginary mandate is something the Democrats should prepare for. And the possibility that this narrative won't matter one whit is something that Republicans should prepare for.