Karl Rove’s Super Genius Strikes Again

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JONATHAN CHAIT JUNE 23, 2011

Karl Rove’s Super Genius Strikes Again

I don't understand the journalistic value of the Wall Street Journal providing a regular forum for Karl Rove to make bullish predictions for Republicans, because Rove is wrong a lot. But apparently the Journal thinks its readers need the comfort of constant reassurance in good times and bad.

Today's column provides a pretty good insight into Rove's analytic methods:

Mr. Obama's standing has declined among other, larger groups. Gallup reported his job approval rating Tuesday at 45%, down from 67% at his inaugural. Among the groups showing a larger-than-average decline since 2009 are whites (down 25 points); older voters (down 24); independents and college graduates (both down 23), those with a high-school education or less, men, and Southerners (all down 22); women (down 21 points); married couples and those making $2,000-$4,000 a month (down 20). This all points to severe trouble in suburbs and midsized cities in states likes Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada.

There's more. Approval among younger voters has dropped 22 points, and it's dropped 20 points among Latinos.

I really enjoy the use of statistics here. Rove begins by announcing that Obama's approval has dropped since his inauguration -- when it was an obviously unsustainable 67% -- to 45%. (Which puts Obama very close to an even proposition for reelection, not the likely loser Rove paints him as.) A drop from 67% to 45% is a decline of 22 percentage points. Rove adds more numbers as if these are additional revelations, each one a fresh nail in Obama's reelection coffin: He's dropped 25% among men! 24% among the elderly! 23% among independents!

Indeed, you could even say that a 22 percentage point among the electorate as a whole drop implies that each subgroup will see a drop of approximately 22 percentage points. It might be interesting if some subgroups were dropping more or less than that average amount. But no, Rove continues to pile on more ways to show various groups dropping by around 22 percentage points. College graduates! Non-college graduates! Men! Southerners! Women! And on and on! Rove fails to use his keen data analysis to demonstrate that Obama has fallen by around 22 percentage points among both left- and -right-handed voters.

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posted in: jonathan chait, wall street journal, karl rove, obama

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