Last night, networks began calling the state of Ohio — and as a result, the entire presidential election — for President Obama just after 11pm EST, but that did nothing to discourage Republican strategist Karl Rove, who for 20 minutes simply refused to acknowledge that Mitt Romney could have lost the state.
Even after Fox News’ own decision desk projected President Obama would win a second term, Rove insisted to host Chris Wallace that all of the numbers that poll watchers and newsrooms across the country were seeing were wrong:
WALLACE: I’m going to ask you a straight out question. You went through this in 2000, you almost went through this in 2004. Do you believe that Ohio has been settled?
ROVE: No, I don’t.
What followed was a theatrical display worthy of a Broadway stage. Confronted with hard, verifiable facts and statistics by their own team of experts that they happened to dislike, the Fox News hosts sent co-anchor Megyn Kelly marching from the studio to the offices housing the network’s decision desk to confront them on their call of Ohio for Obama.
Remarkably, even after the network’s experts calmly explained to the Fox News audience that the outstanding vote at that point in the night included a large portion of the heavily Democratic county of Cuyahoga and that there were just not enough outstanding Republican votes to overcome Mitt Romney’s deficit, Karl Rove kept digging:
ROVE: I just wonder, when you’re sitting there with 4.4 million votes cast, a difference of 991 votes between the two candidates, the difference is 49.19% to 49.17%, if a little bit of caution might not be better.
Ever since several news networks were forced to backtrack on their initial calls of Florida for Al Gore in 2000, producers have been more careful before issuing projections. But Rove’s logic — that Ohio remained too close to call because at one point the difference between both candidates was less than 1000 votes — completely ignores the scientific methodology behind issuing projections. The entire scene was reminiscent of Rove’s infamous 2006 appearance on NPR in which, confronted with polls showing huge pickups for Democrats in the midterm elections, Rove complained that “you may end up with a different math, but you’re entitled to your math. I’m entitled to the math.”
Rove’s math failed him once again, as President Obama expanded his lead to more than 100,000 votes as more precincts began reporting their results. And despite predictions that the entire election would hinge on the results in Ohio, Obama would have still emerged victorious even if Romney carried the state. .