Words From the Other Side

It can be insightful to watch what your enemy/opponent does and says.

The Architect Speaks
BY MIKE ALLEN/WASHINGTON

After maintaining a relentless optimism in the face of ominous polls, Karl Rove tells TIME why Republicans wound up taking a bath on Election Night.

At the White House senior staff meeting in the Roosevelt Room at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten thanked Karl Rove for his hard work in the elections, and the group around the big table burst into spontaneous applause. It was a much-needed moment of cheer for Rove, the President’s chief strategist, after Republicans lost the House and were headed toward the same fate in the Senate in midterm congressional elections that turned into a blue rip tide of voter ire.

“The profile of corruption in the exit polls was bigger than I’d expected,” Rove tells TIME. “Abramoff, lobbying, Foley and Haggard [the disgraced evangelical leader] added to the general distaste that people have for all things Washington, and it just reached critical mass.”

Exit polls showed heavy discontent with the course of the war, and Bush announced the departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld the next day. But Rove took comfort in results of the Connecticut Senate race between the anti-war Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who ran as an independent after losing the Democratic primary over his support for the war. “Iraq mattered,” Rove says. “But it was more frustration than it was an explicit call for withdrawal. If this was a get-out-now call for withdrawal, then Lamont would not have been beaten by Lieberman. Iraq does play a role, but not the critical, central role.”

And he does not believe his data let him down. “My job is not to be a prognosticator,” he said. “My job is not to go out there and wring my hands and say, ‘We’re going to lose.’ I’m looking at the data and seeing if I can figure out, Where can we be? I told the President, ‘I don’t know where this is going to end up. But I see our way clear to Republican control.’ “

Rove, who is Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser to the President, had long been warning in speeches that Democrats suffered defeat in 1994 after ossified thinking and an entitlement mentality took over the party: “What I was trying to say was: What happened to them could happen to us,” he told TIME.

[snip]

The Republican National Committee has been pointing out that a small shift in votes would have made a big difference. A shift of 77,611 votes would have given Republicans control of the House, according to Bush’s political team. And a shift of 2,847 votes in Montana, or 7,217 votes in Virginia, or 41,537 votes in Missouri would have given a Republicans control of the Senate. In addition, the party has calculated that the winner received 51 percent or less in 35 contests, and that 23 races were decided by two percentage points or fewer, 18 races were decided by fewer than 5,000 votes, 15 races were decided by fewer than 4,000 votes, 10 races were decided by fewer than 3,000 votes, eight were decided by fewer than 2,000 votes and five races were decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Read the rest here.

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