Karl Rove's last pre-election column for the Wall Street Journal ran in this morning's paper and features his prediction that Mitt Romney will win “at least 279 Electoral College votes.” Rove's prediction of a Romney victory is the inevitable conclusion of his problematic role at the Wall Street Journal during this election cycle, where he has routinely used his weekly column to forward the financial interests of the political groups he founded.
As Media Matters has documented extensively, Rove's role as a media figure this election has been heavily influenced by his involvement with American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two political groups spending hundreds of millions of dollars to swing next week's elections.
For more than a year, the Journal gave Rove a platform to assess the presidential race without regularly disclosing his relationship to Crossroads. The paper started disclosing Rove's conflict of interest in his bio starting in late September following widespread criticism from current and former editorial page editors at other major papers.
Rove has used his WSJ column to promote Romney's electoral prospects in various states that Crossroads was flooding with money; push dishonest smears of Obama; and tout Crossroads' own important role in cutting ads “highlighting the shortcomings” of Obama's policies, even as fact-checkers have routinely labeled his groups' ads dishonest.
Taken as a whole, Rove's column today amounts to little more than Rove using the Wall Street Journal as a megaphone for himself and other Republican operatives to deliver a pep talk before the election, a fact consistent with the columns that have come before during this election season.
Rove lists what he sees as a variety of encouraging data points for Romney heading into next week. In addition to Gallup numbers and cherrypicking data from Ohio polls (a state where Crossroads has spend millions), Rove cites the following sources for his optimism: “a Republican National Committee Summary,” former Bush campaign official Adrian Gray, Romney Ohio campaign director Scott Jennings, and Kelly Nallen the “data maven” for American Crossroads.
Conservatives have been looking to keep their “Romney momentum” narrative alive, despite evidence to the contrary. (Expect Rove to appear on Fox News shortly to trumpet this prediction as well.) On cue, the official GOP Twitter account sent out a link to Rove's “must-read” column this morning, which Rove promptly thanked them for sharing:
Among the other reasons not to take Rove's prediction as an honest assessment of the race: he has quite a spotty record with electoral predictions. Most infamously, during an appearance on NPR two weeks before the 2006 midterm elections, Rove chided host Robert Siegel for pointing out that Democrats are outpolling Republicans. Rove said: “I'm looking at all of these, Robert, and adding them up. I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math but you are entitled to your math and I'm entitled to the math.” Of course, two weeks later the Democrats regained control of both chambers of Congress.
Even if Obama was up by 10 points in every swing state poll, it's doubtful Rove would have used his Wall Street Journal column to do anything other than cheer Romney's chances, as predicting an Obama win would essentially amount to Rove admitting that the millions of dollars and dozens of frequently-dishonest ads run by his political groups had failed.