Karl Rove's Bad Math: Not All Stats Are Accurate

Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 08:07 AM

Pundits and others are scratching their heads: How did Rove's predictions for a GOP hold on Congress fall so far off target?....

Poor Karl, and we were thinking they were smoking reefer, not chasing polls.

Two weeks before the elections, Rove showed NEWSWEEK his magic numbers: a series of graphs and bar charts that tallied early voting and voter outreach. Both were running far higher than in 2004. In fact, Rove thought the polls were obsolete because they relied on home telephones in an age of do-not-call lists and cell phones. Based on his models, he forecast a loss of 12 to 14 seats in the House--enough to hang on to the majority. Rove placed so much faith in his figures that, after the elections, he planned to convene a panel of Republi-can political scientists--to study just how wrong the polls were.

Translation: The Old "Frog Theorem" stuff one more time. "If the facts do not confirm our theory, then, discard said facts."

The numbers looked a lot less rosy to the other architect of the campaign -- RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman. It was Mehlman who built the much vaunted turnout machine. But he feared that many inside the party were relying too much on technology, like voter databases, and had lost sight of the bigger picture: that voters were turning against them. "We've built a great new car, but the gasoline for the car isn't us; it's the candidates and the issues," Mehlman told NEWSWEEK. There was no bigger issue than the war, which Rove had pushed as a winning theme for the GOP.

Translation: Rove believed his own hype, and we are often told, that is the shortest path to total annihilation. Of course the war was a big issue, and obviously, Rove just rolled another one, believing the fear deal would keep us all in line one more time.

Nope. Rove blew it. Thank God that sometimes, as the old saw goes, you can only fool someone only so many times.