"Karl Rove Had a Bad Night"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 7 2012 2:47 PM

"Karl Rove Had a Bad Night"

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sen. Sherrod Brown had expected to win his Senate race. No poll, in the last stretch, ever showed him losing to State Treasurer Josh Mandel. He'd been pretty bouyant on the trail when I'd seen him, joking around with supporters and predicting an Obama win. He was just as jovial this morning, chatting with reporters about what they'd heard.

"Did Tester win?" he asked, referring to the Democratic senator in Montana. The AP had just called the race, I told him. "That's fantastic," he said. "He really LOOKS like Montana, you know? That's the thing with him and [North Dakota candidate] Heidi Heitkamp. They're just personable, and that gets across in those states, where you might have fewer voters than you have in Franklin County."

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Heitkamp's win was about to be declared, too. The three candidates, two of them incumbents, had just held off a historic onslaught of third party attack ads, and Brown wanted to emphasize that. "The significance of this victory last night, yesterday, is that it might make some of my colleagues a little less intimidated by some of this outside money," he said. "It might make the outside money -- as typically sleazy as it is -- a little more reluctant to come into a state."

Over a phone line, a reporter asked what the Mandel loss meant for Karl Rove, who'd bundled so much money for American Crossroads. Brown chomped into the question. "Karl Rove had a bad night," he said. "Connie [Schultz, his wife] showed me that video from Fox News last night. Karl Rove doesn't know as much about Ohio as he thinks he does."

Indeed, if there were any accountability whatsoever for D.C. punditry, I don't think Rove would be able to live down that Fox News moment. If you haven't seen it, here: Watch Rove deny that the numbers in Ohio are the real numbers, and that Democrats are winning the state.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.