No wonder Rove was so desperate on Foxaganda last Tuesday to keep talking up Ohio as Romney country even after it was called for President Obama.
Perhaps all that spending kept the margins closer than they would have been. But how does Rove prove that? He's taken some heat for Crossroads' performance. In a sane world, donors would be deleting Rove's cellphone number faster than Mitt Romney is losing "likes" on Facebook and telling him not to come knocking for cash ever again. But the guy who won his spurs as "Bush's brain" knows that these days you will still get your millions in bonuses even if the company you lead fails to turn the expected profit or even goes bankrupt.
So he's pushing his new idea. Well, not really new. And, uh, not really his:
"I hate to say it, but we need to copy what Howard Dean did, and that is make our ground game in all 50 states," Rove told Sean Hannity on Monday. "While we had a reasonably good ground game in places like Ohio and Florida—look, we didn't have a ground game in a lot of these states with Senate races and so we lost North Dakota by 3,300 votes. We lost [Montana] by 17,000 votes. We need to have a better ground game in all 50 states."In fact, the Democrats should take Rove's advice to build on the successes of 2012.
Despite its critics, including from Obama's then-righthand man Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Dean's strategy produced considerable success, both in 2006 and in 2008, when the Obama campaign adopted many of its elements. Dean focused on modernizing infrastructure, investing in technology, adding trainings, building the neighbor-to-neighbor organizing tool and working at micro-targeting voters. All of this was combined with traditional methods of organizing.
The Democrats never quite made it a true 50-state strategy. But with the experience learned since and even better technology, they now have the ability to do so. Not just in the 50 states, but in all the nation's 200,000 or so precincts, anywhere there are Democratic voters to be organized and turned out to cast ballots. Because, as we know all too well, it's not just the presidency and Congress at stake. Republicans have been making major policy gains in the state legislatures. That's how they get away with hamstringing Planned Parenthood, gutting schools and public health, taking whack after whack at government workers. Practice for what they want to do nationally. The other side of that, when Republicans aren't in control, is the ability to experiment with innovative approaches to governance, to energy and environmental policies, to land use.
As of now, Republicans hold 56 of the 99 state legislative chambers.
In the long run, demographic change is going to make life tougher for Republicans. But a 200,000-precinct strategy by Democrats could speed up that process by doing what Karl Rove wishes he could do. All that money and all that organization won't do you any good if your message doesn't resonate. And the Republican message doesn't resonate with young people, the less affluent, minorities. Rove knows that. But after 40 years on the front lines of the Right, he wants to keep that cash rolling in. Howard Dean must be having a good chuckle.