Karl Rove, eternal optimist

"Bush's Brain" says happy days for the GOP are here again, but his argument could use some work.

By Mark Schone
December 11, 2008 10:55PM (UTC)
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Karl Rove wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal today. He sees a new morning of sunshine and rainbows for his twice-thumped party.

What a difference a month makes. Since November's election, the GOP is three wins, no losses.

The first win came in Georgia, where Sen. Saxby Chambliss crushed his Democratic opponent by 15 points in a run-off election on Dec. 2. The other wins came in Louisiana congressional races on Saturday. One was in a Republican-leaning district in the state's northwest corner. Democrats outspent the GOP three to two and still lost. In the other, Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao defeated nine-term Democrat William Jefferson in a district where John McCain received 24% of the vote.

This is the part where we shoo away the rainbows. We have discovered the missing footnotes from Rove's column.

In Georgia, as expected, an incumbent Republican senator who had won on Election Day won by a larger margin in the runoff. Just as in Georgia's 1992 runoff, the departure of the Libertarian from the race gave the Republican a boost, as did lower black turnout. Also, Sarah Palin campaigned in Georgia, turning out the GOP base, and Barack Obama did not.


In northwest Louisiana, a Democrat came within 356 votes of winning an open seat, just vacated by a Republican, in a district that is 7 points more Republican than the nation as a whole. He did this despite the fact that the depressed turnout in special elections often helps Republicans. In New Orleans, voters in a Democratic district fired William Jefferson, the guy with the freezer full of cash. Will Republican Cao win a second term? LA-2 is D plus 28, making it one of the bluest spots on the American map. I wouldn't bet on it.

Mark Schone

Mark Schone is Salon's executive news editor.

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