Karl Rove at War With Himself

Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Karl Rove and Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah at the Republican National Convention.

Forget Obama vs. Romney or Democrats vs. Republicans.  Here’s the battle to watch as the presidential campaign heads into its final 5 weeks: Karl Rove the ideologue vs. Karl Rove the realist.

Both sides of Rove, President George W. Bush’s political Svengali, have been on display of late. Last week, following the release of CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University polls showing President Barack Obama with strong leads over Mitt Romney in the key swing states of Florida and Ohio, Rove appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show to trash the surveys.

The poll figures — which helped propel the narrative of a flagging Romney campaign — derived from a flawed partisan makeup in their sample groups, Rove said. Specifically, an over-representation of Democrats, based on past voting patterns in the two states.

Speaking of polls in general, which overall showed the political tides clearly shifting Obama’s way as September ended, Rove said: “We endow them with a false scientific precision they simply don’t have.”

True enough. But now let’s turn to Rove’s Web site, where his hard-nosed prognosticator-side offers a weekly look at the state of the electoral map. In the one he posted yesterday, he shifted Ohio, Nevada and Iowa to “lean” Obama from “toss up” and, in just a bit of more bad news for Romney, changed Montana to “lean” toward the Republican ticket from “safe”  for it.

The bottom line, when adding up the states Rove’s map shows as either safely in the Obama column or leaning toward him: 277 electoral votes for the president, seven more than needed for victory. And that’s with 5 states — including Florida — still in the tossup category.

The short Rove commentary accompanying the map doesn’t note what seems to be an enviable Obama position. Instead, Rove the committed party man has this to say: “All of the `lean’ Romney states will almost certainly end up in Mr. Romney’s column in November, while the `lean’ Obama states are tougher battlegrounds that will likely move positions several times in the final month until Election Day, especially as more Americans tune in to the race and upcoming debates.”

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