By Ben Cohen: Karl Rove has not had a great couple of weeks. Not only did the doughy Machiavellian have a spectacular meltdown live on election night, it now transpires that his Super Pac ‘American Crossroads’ was an unmitigated disaster in terms of money spent for votes gained.
In a devastating report by the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization that analyzes the influence of money on politics, the analysis raised serious questions about the effectiveness of Rove’s organization this campaign. From CNN:
Using available data, the Sunlight Foundation said of the $103.5 million American Crossroads spent in the general election, 1.29% of it ended in the desired result. None of the candidates American Crossroads supported won, and most of the candidates it opposed were victorious.
Crossroads GPS, which does not have to disclose its donors, spent $70 million during the general election with 14.4% of it having the result it wanted, according to Sunlight Foundation’s analysis. In the key Senate races in which it ran ads, Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley’s defeat was the one success it had.
Obama’s defeat and the Republicans gaining control of the Senate were major aims for these groups and their contributors – and neither one was accomplished.
Rove’s spectacular flop this election was part of a broader failure by Republicans to effectively spend money to get their candidates into office on election night last week. A report from ProPublica showed that Mitt Romney’s campaign paid $6.23 per vote, whereas President Obama’s campaign paid $1.78 per vote – a stunning difference that paints a bleak picture for Rove and the Republican Party.
Firstly, it’s clear that the Republicans, who pride themselves on being the party of business, aren’t particularly business savvy. Obama’s campaign was ruthlessly efficient compared to Romney’s, making a mockery of the GOP’s persistent attempts to paint the Democrats as ‘wasteful’ big spenders.
Secondly, the massive discrepancy between the spending from each party indicates a far more troubling political landscape for Rove and the Republicans down the road. The truth is that Republicans policies, and politicians, are getting harder and harder to sell to the public, and they have to spend more and more on increasingly dishonest and extreme campaigns to get voters to come to the polls.
As I wrote yesterday, the Republican Party is now so far to the Right that it would be unrecognizable to Republicans of 40 years ago, and considered almost a fascist entity almost anywhere in the Western world (any party that counts birthers, anti immigrant militants, or candidates who claim there are ‘legitimate rapes’ as their own should not be in mainstream politics). Although shrouded in rhetoric about giving Americans back their hard earned money and getting government off their backs, the public is catching on to the extreme dangers of Republican economic policies. Polls consistently show Americans favoring the preservation of social security, opposing cuts to public education, and medicare and favoring universal health care – all programs that Republicans would love desperately to take an axe to.
Strategists like Karl Rove know full well that Americans are intrinsically opposed to Republican policies, so therefore craft campaigns to disguise their true intentions and distort the opposition’s positions. The job of convincing hundreds of millions of Americans who are hurting financially that rich people must be given more tax cuts while the education system and welfare state that benefits them must be stripped to the bone isn’t an easy task. And as the numbers show, it’s getting far more expensive.
In Rove’s defense, he had a virtually impossible task in getting Romney elected. Getting the people who swallow the nonsense coming out of Fox News and the GOP propaganda machine to vote isn’t that difficult, but it does require a large dose of fear mongering to get them excited about a candidate and out to the polls. Once that has been achieved, swinging back to the center to attract intelligent Republicans gets harder and harder, as many of them are turned off by extremism, and are beginning to see the giant flaws in the modern Republican platform.
The only solution to this is to either radically change direction in terms of policy, or go out and raise even more money.
The likelihood of the GOP becoming more moderate isn’t great, and problematically for Karl Rove, he isn’t exactly delivering fantastic value for money to his billionaire backers, so they’ll be less inclined to give him money going forwards.
Rove is in between a rock and a hard place right now, and it’s pretty funny to watch. As they say, you reap what you sow, and after polluting the American political system with election rigging, dirty campaigning techniques, and mind boggling sums of money, Rove lay the foundations of his own demise long ago.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.