Articles by Karl Rove
At last Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, President Obama declared he was determined to “make the most of every moment” left in office, saying he had been working on a “bucket list” that included executive action on immigration and climate regulation. Aware that his critics believe he’s often acted lawlessly, Mr. Obama joked that the title for his list rhymes with “bucket.”
Regardless of what items Mr. Obama checks off, he will leave to his successor a staggering array of domestic problems, some he ignored and many he made worse.
The dysfunctional Congress finally appears to be working again as the Founders intended. Lawmakers are negotiating, voting on bills and actually passing legislation. As proof of this, National Journal’s Charlie Cook points to three things: congressional approval of a permanent “doc fix” to prevent cuts to physician reimbursements under Medicare; extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program; and passage of budget resolutions by the House and Senate.
There’s even more evidence. This week Senate Democrats agreed to move forward on a human-trafficking bill without undoing a 39-year-old ban on federal funding of abortion.
To bond with “everyday” Americans, Hillary Clinton left her million-dollar Chappaqua, N.Y., mansion Sunday in the “Scooby-Do Mystery Machine” van, bound for Iowa. It was déjà vu all over again: In 1999 she started her U.S. Senate campaign by driving around upstate New York in a van also called “Scooby.”
The new van’s leather interior, 29-inch flat-screen TV with Blu-ray, and a power sofa that converts into a bed won’t turn Mrs. Clinton into America’s middle-class granny, especially after the salesman who helped deliver it explained, “It’s very luxurious.” There’s a weirdness to this trip, a lack of excitement and purpose that seems a metaphor for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.
After Hillary Clinton left the State Department in early 2013, her favorable rating was 64% and her unfavorable rating 31% in an April 14 Gallup poll. In a March 4, 2015, Gallup poll, respondents were 50% favorable, 39% unfavorable. That’s not a good trend.
Nevertheless, the Hillary Juggernaut rolls on. She has no significant challenger for the 2016 presidential nomination—though 66% of Democrats in a March 24 CBS poll wanted Mrs. Clinton to face one.
There’s a hypothesis circulating among Republicans that Mitt Romney lost in 2012 because a large number of previously reliable conservatives who turned out in past elections stayed home. Here’s the problem: It’s not accurate.
First, let’s look at voter turnout. It dropped to 129.2 million in 2012 from 131.5 million in 2008, according to David Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Elections. But the drop-off was not among conservatives. According to exit polls, self-identified conservatives made up 35% of the 2012 turnout, and 82% of them voted for Mr. Romney. This translates into about 45.2 million conservatives who turned out—roughly 531,000 more than in 2008.
By using Twitter to announce his entry into the 2016 Republican presidential race, Sen. Ted Cruz signaled just how pervasive social media will be this election. Two other trends are worth watching. There will be a greater reliance on data and technology in organizing, communicating and measuring the effectiveness of campaign activity—and every presidential candidate will have a Super PAC.
The $2,700 a person contribution limit to a candidate’s campaign for the primary season means donors who are able will donate larger amounts to the Super PAC supporting their favorite candidate.
While juggling questions of a candidate’s performance, message and organization, every Republican presidential strategist also spends lots of time thinking about money. First comes this question: How many dollars must a candidate have to be competitive in the opening round of 2016 contests?
It’s tough to settle on a number for the buy-in now. Few states have passed laws setting their primary or caucus date, so it may be months until the calendar is locked in. It’s also difficult to decide how much of each kind of activity is necessary.
After sustaining crushing losses in 2014, Democrats are projecting confidence about recapturing the Senate in 2016. Unlike midterms, according to the party’s Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman, Justin Barasky, a presidential election “can only help Democrats.” Count me skeptical.
To get a majority, Democrats must defeat five of seven Republican senators in states President Obama won twice—Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. (Or five of eight Republicans if you add North Carolina, which Mr. Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012.)
Put aside the policy implications of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s powerful speech to Congress on Tuesday, and the dire consequences if President Obama bungles his dealings with Iran.
Instead, consider how badly the Obama administration has handled things during the six weeks since Jan. 21, when House Speaker John Boehner invited Mr. Netanyahu to address Congress. Mr. Obama and his team pride themselves on their communications prowess, but they’ve made a hash of the situation.
To better understand the 2016 GOP presidential race, let’s consider some history. At a comparable point during the last nine Republican presidential primary contests, four had a front-runner with a double-digit lead in a national poll, and in five the leader was ahead by single digits.
Combining the two sets, the front-runner—regardless of their lead’s size—won five out of nine times. If the front-runner actually ran, he became the GOP nominee in five of seven contests. Structural changes imposed by the Republican National Committee may make 2016 a different story.