Did Rove Win for the Wrong Reasons?
Dr. Donkey himself, Ruy Teixeira, is putting the gradually-refined-towards-truth exit polls under the surgeon's knife in recent posts, and is coming up with some important findings, though none of them are that surprising.
You should read all his stuff, but the bottom line is that Bush's biggest improvements over his 2000 performance were among women, especially married women, and especially white working class women, and senior women. And although there remains some methodology-based arguments about the Hispanic vote, it's pretty clear Bush made gains there, too, despite a variety of pre-election polls showing Kerry running about as well as Gore.
Hmmmm. Married women, seniors, Hispanics--geez, weren't these precisely the three categories that Karl Rove's original 2004 "swing voter" strategy focused on?
I mention this because I am one of the Democrats who heaped scorn on this strategy during most of the last year. I suggested that because No Child Left Behind (aimed at married women), an Rx Drug Benefit (Bush's candy for seniors) and a guest worker proposal (supposedly magic among Hispanics) all seemed to have failed as popular initiatives, Rove had to shift to a different strategy of revving up his conservative base and demonizing Kerry.
Post-election, Rove and other conservatives are explaining Bush's success as attributable to cultural and national security issues. So it makes you wonder: was this Rove's intention all along? Did he simply adopt a different strategy aimed at the same targets? Or did he just get lucky? And in any event, does this mean that in the future Rove will stop manipulating administration policy in the pursuit of voter categories and just rely on cultural issues and pure viciousness in promoting the GOP's political fortunes?
I guess we'll soon see.