Karl Rove's Nightmare

Karl Rove is aiming for victory by the skin of his teeth. When Bush came into office in 2000, the Washington Post reports, he set out an election plan for 2004 that included Republicans winning over minorities, and all those it failed to sway in 2000. But it didn't turn out that way.

...He laid out what amounted to his early game plan for reelecting President Bush in 2004: improving the party's performance among blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, union households and "wired workers" of the technology world. Bush won about 8 percent of the African American vote in 2000, and Rove insisted that number needed to be pushed higher.

Back then, Rove did not strive simply to produce a convincing victory but to create a permanent Republican majority. Now, a little more than two weeks before the election, the Bush-Cheney campaign would be happy to eke out the barest, skin-of-the-teeth GOP majority, and aims to cobble it together by turning out every last evangelical Christian, gun owner, rancher and home schooler -- reliable Republicans all. It looks like the opposite of Rove's original dream.

This election well may be Karl Rove's nightmare:

At this point, Bush would have to defy history to win reelection, since polls show the incumbent in a dead-even race and that a majority of voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

If Bush loses, it will be Karl Rove's strategy that carries the blame:

The main critique of the Rove strategy, from inside and outside his party, is that the White House governed in a divisive way, when Bush could have used his popularity following the terrorist attacks to reach out to swing voters and even to African Americans.

Then there is Rove's reach-out to the Evangelical Christian community, which as we mentioned yesterday, could tip the balance in a close election:

What might be called the Rove Doctrine of emphasizing the base grew partly out of the scarring experience of 2000. According to the calculations of Bush consultants, 4 million evangelical Christians stayed home, perhaps in part because of the final-weekend revelation that Bush had once been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

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