On Wednesday, Karl Rove said in The Wall Street Journal that Joe Biden had the edge going into November. Rove knows better than that and is just covering his bets. As a pundit and no longer a political gunslinger, a fate I am familiar with, Rove needs to give himself wiggle room in a tight race. Okay, understood. Incidentally, President Trump was not a big Rove fan until recently. Now, that’s changed.
Karl Rove: “the record is pretty clear,” President Trump took decisive action that Biden argued against to fight the coronavirus pic.twitter.com/Gi9i4Wueyi
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) September 9, 2020
But if you read between the lines in the Journal and understand Rove, who is one of the best political tacticians this nation has ever produced, you can easily see the real message: Trump is the hunter, not the hunted. As the economy continues to pick up, so will Trump. But a cursory analysis reads exactly the opposite.
Rove: “Trump partisans don’t believe it, but national polls show former Vice President Joe Biden continues to be ahead. The race has tightened, though, especially in battleground states. Anxious Democrats are wondering if this could be the sixth contest in history and second in a row in which the Electoral College winner loses the national popular vote… Shifting concerns about Covid-19 may turn the race even more in Mr. Trump’s direction. A Sept. 7 NBC poll found that 52% say the pandemic is more of a health crisis, down from 56% in a July 7 survey, while 47% said it’s more of an economic crisis, up from 43% in July… If this trend continues, the election will be less about Mr. Trump’s handling of Covid-19 and more about who will be better at restarting the economy. Team Trump would like that, as four August polls found the president retains the advantage on who would do a better job on the economy, by an average of 49% to 43%… The Trump campaign’s emphasis on law and order has raised questions about whether Mr. Biden is weak on this essential issue and, more broadly, too weak to resist the pull of his party’s left wing.”
Now that is just a part of a full article in The Wall Street Journal that paints a gray picture for Trump and a brighter one for Biden. But why would Rove include the parts above that undercut his own main thesis that Biden has the edge?
Rove knows people vote on the economy, war and peace — this year, throw in the virus and the riots. Trump wins economy, Rove acknowledges that. Trump is running away with war and peace, given his recent diplomatic triumphs. Though the Chinese and Iranians could try to complicate matters between now and November. That could also backfire, as in times of national security crisis people look to the president for leadership and this guy can lead.
The only soft spot for Trump is the virus. He overreacted in the economic sense and crippled the economy in the process. Biden would have done worse. But those who lost jobs and businesses due to the virus may hold the president responsible. That could hurt. The final advantages that give Trump the boost he’ll need to win? The riots and the debates. Voters realize how close the Democrats are to Antifa and Black Lives Matter and the debates will show America how mentally enfeebled Joe Biden actually is. The president won’t have to attack much. Just let Biden try to talk as much as possible.