The discussion of presidential mandates is as certain as a presidential election itself. Journalists inevitably discuss whether the president-elect has a popular mandate. Because they see elections as too complex to allow the public to send a unitary signal, political scientists are more skeptical of mandates. Mandates, however, have received new attention by scholars asking whether perceptions of mandate arise and lead representatives to act as if voters sent a policy directive. Two explanations have emerged to account for why elected officials might react to such perceptions. One focuses on the president's strategic decision to declare a mandate, the second on how members of Congress read signals of changing preferences in the electorate from their own election results. We test these competing views to see which more accurately explains how members of Congress act in support of a perceived mandate. The results indicate that members respond more to messages about changing preferences than to the president's mandate declaration.