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Karl Rove's very expensive fail

Mitt Romney really wanted to be president, investing years of his life on the campaign trail.
Photo: AP/David Goldman
Photo: AP/David Goldman

Mitt Romney really wanted to be president, investing years of his life on the campaign trail. But given the amount of money that Karl Rove spent to defeat President Obama, it's possible Rove wanted the White House even more.

That's one explanation, at least, for the difficulty Rove is obviously having in accepting Tuesday night's results. After all, his spending groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, dropped about $300 million dollars on the 2012 election. It wasn't Rove's own money, but cash he'd raised from some very wealthy--and now very angry--GOP backers.

 "There is some holy hell to pay. Karl Rove has a lot of explaining to do," an anonymous GOP operative told The Huffington Post. "I don't know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing."

A study by the Sunlight Foundation found that Rove's American Crossroads got only a 1.3% return on investment, meaning only about 1% of all the money got the candidate they supported into office, or kept the candidate they opposed out.

How's Rove explaining away his big loss? He says Obama won by "suppressing the vote." According to Rove, voter suppression isn't shrinking early voting or requiring voter ID, it's criticizing your opponent so much that people don't show up to vote for him. Or as some people call it, campaigning.

Rove had promised millionaire and billionaire donors that with enough money, they could buy the White House. It would be naive to pretend that a campaign doesn't benefit from having a lot of cash. The Obama forces raised millions of dollars of their own. But if voters don't like your messenger or the message, you can't pay them to vote your way.