I imagine there are some fascinating behind-the-scenes conversations taking place in the political world this morning, but the chats I’d especially like to hear are the ones between the most generous Republican donors and the party officials who didn’t deliver.
Precise estimates vary, but by all accounts, Republican casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, for example, invested tens of millions of dollars in the 2012 cycle, including writing several large checks to Rove’s Crossroads attack operation. Rove effectively told Adelson and other hyper-wealthy donors, “Give me your money and I’ll deliver the election results you want.”
The checks came. The victories didn’t.
With Republicans already in control of the House, Crossroads, Restore Our Future, and related groups seemed to think it was simply a matter of finances – if they could raise the necessary resources, they could “carpetbomb” Democratic candidates, win the Senate, and take the White House. Democrats wouldn’t know what hit them.
It wasn’t a bad theory; it just failed miserably. President Obama appears to have ended up with 332 electoral votes, and the Democratic majority in the Senate got bigger, not smaller. When Rove’s phone rings today, and angry billionaires want to know what kind of return on investment they received, I honestly have no idea what he can say to justify such widespread failures.
Over the summer, Rachel talked to Harvey Weinstein, and asked about Democrats getting swamped by millions from the far-right. The co-founder of Miramax Films and the co-chairman of the Weinstein Company replied:
“I’ll give you an example of two movies that I distribute. I spent the exact same amount on both movies. One movie was called ‘The King’s Speech.’ It grossed $140 million, won a few Oscars, including best picture and did sensational based on its budget.
“The other was called ‘Our Idiot Brother.’ We spent the same amount of money and the movie grossed $25 million. Not bad for what we paid for it – you know, OK, a little bit of profit.
“To me, Romney is ‘Our Idiot Brother’ and Obama is ‘The King’s Speech.’ You can spend all the money in the world, if you’ve got a bad product, it doesn’t matter.”
Four months later, Weinstein’s quote looks even more sensible than it seemed at the time.
Rove and Adelson can buy a lot of airtime, but they can’t buy an electorate that thinks like they do.
Postscript: Incidentally, maybe now would be a good time for the political establishment to reassess Rove’s purported genius. He very nearly blew the 2000 race; he oversaw his party’s 2006 debacle; and he was still insisting Romney had a shot fairly late last night. Maybe “The Architect” isn’t the brilliant tactician he’s been made out to be?