Karl Rove’s Record Of Failed Predictions

The White House and its conservative allies rushed to shower Karl Rove with superlatives this morning, saying that he was the “political genius” who “masterminded” the Bush presidency. White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said that “it’s a big loss to us” because Rove has “a brilliant mind.”

In an interview with Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, Rove made a series of rosy predictions about the future of right-wing politics:

“He will move back up in the polls,” says Mr. Rove, who interrupts my reference to Mr. Bush’s 30% approval rating by saying it’s heading close to “40%,” and “higher than Congress.”

Looking ahead, he adds, “Iraq will be in a better place” as the surge continues. Come the autumn, too, “we’ll see in the battle over FISA” — the wiretapping of foreign terrorists — “a fissure in the Democratic Party.” Also in the fall, “the budget fight will have been fought to our advantage,” helping the GOP restore, through a series of presidential vetoes, its brand name on spending restraint and taxes.

As for the Democrats, “They are likely to nominate a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate” by the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Holding the White House for a third term is always difficult given the pent-up desire for change, he says, but “I think we’ve got a very good chance to do so.”

Rove’s reputation as a “brilliant” political prognosticator belies his track record of grossly getting it wrong on his major predictions:

1) In 2006, roughly a week before the midterm election, Rove predicted “a Republican Senate and Republican House” by claiming sole access to “THE math.” [NPR, 10/24/06]

2) In November of 2000, Rove claimed the “election will not be close.” Rove predicted Bush will “win enough states to get about 50 more Electoral College votes than he needs to win. Rove also predicted Bush will get about 50 percent of the popular vote, with Gore at about 45 percent.” [Houston Chronicle, 11/6/00]

3) During the 2000 primary campaign, Rove declared: “We’re going to win New Hampshire,” referring to the Republican primary. [USA Today 1/25/00]

In reality, the Democrats swept into Congress in 2006, winning both the House and the Senate. The 2000 presidential election was extremely tight, with Al Gore winning the popular vote. And in the 2000 New Hampshire primary, Sen. John McCain routed Bush by 18 percentage points.


As Media Matters has documented, the political press has consistently “accorded significance” to Rove’s prognostications even though they were nothing more than bluster and deluded self-assurance.

UPDATE: PoliticsTV has compiled Karl Rove’s video hall of shame. Take a look here.