Karl Rove's Guide to the Conventions and Beyond

Karl Rove's Guide to the Conventions and Beyond

Why you should care

Because he’s already architected two winning presidential campaigns. 

The author, who curated our Presidential Daily Brief yesterday, was senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

When have we seen a political season like this? The presumptive Republican nominee heads to Cleveland with many in his party wary or uneasy about him. As for the presumptive Democratic nominee, 56 percent of Americans — including 30 percent of Dems — say she should have been charged with a crime over her email server. Even the political calendar is more intense than usual: The last time the two parties’ gatherings were back-to-back was 60 years ago, in 1956. How two solid weeks of convention news coverage plays out — and to whose advantage — will be interesting.

As we head into the week, it’s worth remembering:

Trump Is the Underdog

While polls show a close race, Donald Trump is the underdog. His recent movement in the polls is largely because of Hillary Clinton moving down after FBI Director James Comey’s scathing news conference, and not from The Donald moving up. In a preview of the conventions last week, I argued that to get a big bounce from the convention, Trump must put forth a constructive, unifying message. It’ll be a lot harder than it sounds: He’ll have to play to the TV viewers at home, not the thousands of gung ho supporters in the hall, which means delivering something other than his typical rally speech.

The Veep? Not So Important, Electorally

With all the hype and hubbub about vice presidential choices, it’s worth remembering that a running mate has a net effect on voter behavior of a mere 1 percent, according to a 2010 study by professors Bernard Grofman and Reuben Kline of University of California, Irvine. And yet, we shouldn’t discount the indirect effects a vice presidential nominee can have. The “right” choice can mobilize more partisans to turn out and even cause voters to have a better opinion of the presidential nominee. But my sense is that the best standards for a running mate are not political, but governing: Who would make the best Oval Office partner? Who could step in if something happened to the president?

Looking Ahead to January 2017: Hope?

Call me hopelessly optimistic, but the next president may find Congress ready to legislate after years of gridlock. There’s evidence from Capitol Hill’s performance that both Republicans and Democrats are fed up with Washington’s dysfunctional, polarized atmosphere. Despite Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s filibuster attempts, the Senate has passed and the president has signed more bills this year than any time since 1990. And the House is also above its modern average for bills considered and votes taken. It will be interesting to see if the new president seizes the opportunity that the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has created.

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