The Biggest Loser of 2012: Karl Rove

The failure of Super PACs such as Karl Rove’s  American Crossroads to accomplish anything with all the money they spent is leading to criticism from Republicans who fail to realize the problem is the message along with the messengers. Americans were not going to be fooled into blaming Obama for the recession caused by George Bush and failed Republican economic ideas. Nor will Americans accept the morally repulsive message from Republicans on social issues. Despite all the fears among Democrats that the money edge for Republicans would put them at a disadvantage, the Super PACs were a spectacular failure on the national level:

A study by the Sunlight Foundation found that just 1.29 percent of the nearly $104 million it spent in the general election ended with the desired result. In addition to spending $85 million to defeat Mr. Obama and $6.5 million to support Mitt Romney, the group spent millions more opposing Democratic Senate candidates Bill Nelson in Florida, Jon Tester in Montana, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, and Tim Kaine in Virginia – all of whom won. The only candidates it supported who won were Republicans Deb Fisher in Nebraska and Dean Heller in Nevada, who the group spent a combined $1.3 million to support.

The return for American Crossroads’ sister group, Crossroads GPS, was not much better. Crossroads GPS, which keeps its donors secret, saw a 14 percent return on the $70 million it spent. Another conservative outside group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saw just a 6.9 percent return on its $33 million in spending. The National Rifle Association’s return on its nearly $12 million in spending: 0.81 percent.

While the Super PACs were a failure at the national level, Norm Ornstein did warn in an interview with Terry Gross that conservative groups are having success taking over state governments were their massive infusion of money is a bigger factor.

Years ago Richard Viguerie was the genius behind Republican strategy–using direct mail to bring in votes and donations. Of course that was a different era. More recently Karl Rove became the supposed genius behind Republican strategy, with his Super PAC American Crossroads, looking like a bigger player than the Republican party. Now Richard Viguerie is writing off both Karl Rove and the Republican leadership:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions and other Republican leaders behind the epic election failure of 2012 should be replaced with leaders more in tune with the grassroots of the conservative base of the Party.

Likewise, in any logical universe, establishment Republican consultants such as Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, Romney campaign senior advisor Stewart Stevens and pollster Neil Newhouse would never be hired to run or consult on a national campaign again — and no one would give a dime to their ineffective Super PACs, such as American Crossroads.

This year Republicans did try to use more modern techniques than direct mail. Their attempt  at using computer technology was a total failure. A diary at Red State  cited unnamed Romney staffers who blamed Republican political consultants for this failure:

They say that the truth is the consultants essentially used the Romney campaign as a money making scheme, forcing employees to spin false data as truth in order to paint a rosy picture of a successful campaign as a form of job security.

Zac Moffatt, Digital Director for the Romney campaign, was specifically named as having “built a nest egg for himself and co-founder of Targeted Victory, Mike Beach,” and that they “didn’t get social” media and ignored objections from other consultants and staffers in the campaign.

In other words, the Romney consultants used the Romney campaign in essentially the same way many Republicans use government when they have a chance.

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. 1
    superckook says:

    The Biggest Loser of 2012: Karl Rove #p2 #p21 #topprog

  2. 2
    reflectionephemeral says:

    I dunno if it’s fair to call Rove the biggest loser– how much money did he make? Given that Republicans have abandoned policy beliefs, they might find that pumping a bunch of money into ads calling the president a socialist to have been quite worthwhile, sort of like how I feel when I attend a baseball game where my team loses. That is, for the right’s Adelsons and Kochs, this is entertainment spending. 

    Also– note that Viguerie demands that the right get “leaders more in tune with the grassroots of the conservative base of the Party.” Romney-Ryan, posing as the most right-wing candidates since Goldwater, just didn’t believe hard enough.

    I don’t think that anyone in the GOP has the incentives, political sway, or perhaps even inclination, to bring the party into line with reality on public policy or on electoral demographics. 

  3. 3
    Veronica Davis says:

    The Biggest Loser of 2012: Karl Rove Liberal Values: The Biggest Loser of 2012: Karl Rove. November 10, 2012 — R…

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    It is winning elections which count, and Rove failed at that. I bet that most of the donors will not want to spend their money for ads if it doesn’t affect election results.

    It is too early to say for certain how bad a loss this is for Rove. We will need to see if people continue to donate to Crossroads, hoping for better results in the future.

    The beginning of the post on Republicans who don’t realize that the problem is the message certainly applies to Viguerie. It is possible that with a message as bad as the one the Republicans are trying to see, no amount of money can win a national election.



3 Trackbacks

Leave a comment