Articles by Karl Rove
President Obama ’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening was oddly disconnected.
It was disconnected from events abroad. He said that “the shadow of crisis has passed.” Earlier that day Iranian-backed rebels stormed the compound of the president of Yemen, an American ally. Islamic State, which Mr. Obama referred to a year ago as the “jayvee team,” now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq—leading the president to ask for congressional authorization to use force against it.
Each presidential primary contest differs from previous ones. But 2016 will be wildly different, starting with many more qualified candidates than in 2012. The field last time was among the weakest in memory; this field could be among the strongest.
The race is wide open with no commanding front-runner. Three times as many prospective candidates received 5% or more in Wednesday’s Real Clear Politics average than at this point four years ago. And while Republicans usually have more senators than governors running, it’s the opposite this time.
Since Christmas and New Year’s Day both fell on a Thursday, wiping out my weekly columns in the name of holiday cheer, this is my first opportunity to rate the success of my 2014 predictions and offer new ones for 2015.
I got 13 political prognostications right for 2014. On Election Day, President Obama ’s disapproval was 54%, higher than his 53% at the start of the year. The GOP kept the House (but picked up 14 seats, not six as I suggested) and took the Senate (but with 54, not 51 as I feared).
This past weekend’s action by Congress to fund the federal government for the balance of this fiscal year—except for the Homeland Security Department, which is funded only through February—is evidence of how dysfunctional Washington has become.
The omnibus bill was so big (1,600-plus pages) that virtually no one had time to read it. It was cobbled together by congressional leaders and presented as a fait accompli.
There have generally been two reactions to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Dec. 3 statement at Georgetown University that America should try to “empathize” with our nation’s “enemies.”
One camp holds that Mrs. Clinton simply chose the wrong word to express a banal thought—that the U.S. must understand its enemies. The other camp says her State Department record demonstrates she herself lacks the empathy to know how to deal with America’s adversaries or allies. Both responses are true, yet I have another observation about her speech: It is further evidence Mrs. Clinton is at best a mediocre presidential candidate.
In a Nov. 23 CNN survey, Mitt Romney led 16 potential GOP presidential candidates with 20%, followed by Dr. Ben Carson at 10%, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 9% and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 8%. The other 12 names garnered between less than 1% and 7%. That the front-runner is not even running shows polls now reflect little more than name recognition. It will be next fall before surveys start depicting the real shape of the GOP race. However, there are invisible primaries under way.
With midterms over, let’s give political junkies a fix by surveying the emerging GOP presidential field. Twenty-three Republicans have publicly indicated interest (not including Mitt Romney, who says he has no plans to run). Here they are, with strengths and weaknesses.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is the GOP’s most visible social conservative. Can he reach outside that element of the party? Californian Carly Fiorina is a businesswoman who broke the glass ceiling in 1999 by becoming Hewlett-Packard ’s CEO, but she will have to explain why the HP board dismissed her in 2005.
The week since the midterms has been good for Republicans. The GOP gained a 53rd senator as Dan Sullivan was declared the winner in Alaska on Wednesday. The party seems on its way to a 54th seat in Louisiana. Republican candidates took 56% on Election Day. On Monday the two Republicans who won nearly 15% endorsed fellow Republican Bill Cassidy. He is the front-runner going into the Dec. 6 runoff.
Final exit polls were also encouraging for the GOP. Texas Sen. John Cornyn won 48% of Hispanic voters, while Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott took 44%.
How big was Tuesday’s devastating repudiation of President Obama, his policies and his party?
Republicans picked up seven Democratic Senate seats Tuesday, are well ahead in Alaska, awaiting absentee ballots, and are poised to add a ninth senate seat in a Louisiana runoff on Dec. 6, since three GOP candidates received a combined 55.8% of the vote Tuesday to Sen. Mary Landrieu ’s 42.1%. This could give incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a 54-member caucus.
Campaigns across the country have reached the stage where everything is about getting out the vote, especially in contests that will decide control of the Senate.
The election’s fundamentals have not changed. President Obama remains quite unpopular, as do his policies. Americans are sour on the economy—65% believe the nation is on the wrong track in an Oct. 16 CBS News poll. Likely voters prefer a Republican Congress by 11 points, 52% to 41% in this week’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey. Intensity and enthusiasm are also with Republicans.