Is Karl Rove's Political Career Over?

Rove's failure to get election results and public meltdown on Fox News may doom his career.

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One of the biggest losers in Tuesday's election was Karl Rove, the Fox News commentator and Republican strategist, and the man that Democrats love to hate. His repeated predictions of victory for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney were wrong, and he was off base again in his snarky election-night assessment on Fox that Romney would win Ohio (President Obama did). Today, amid a public spanking by some conservatives, Rove's luster has faded, and he is trying to recover his reputation as the premier Republican strategist in the country.

On Fox News, where Rove is a paid commentator, Rove said Thursday morning that Romney had persuaded Americans that he was a better leader than Obama. "This thing was won." Rove said, but it slipped away for various reasons. Rove added in his Wall Street Journal column Thursday that the president was "lucky....Hurricane Sandy interrupted Mr. Romney's momentum and allowed Mr. Obama to look presidential and bipartisan." Rove also indicated that Obama's get-out-the vote campaign was much better than Romney's.

Many remained upset by Rove, including GOP donors who opened their wallets for two political groups that Rove co-founded, American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS. The groups' spending of tens of millions of dollars is now being criticized for being ineffective.

[RELATED: Karl Rove's Secret Wealth]

"They gave him millions of dollars and they have nothing to show for it," a prominent GOP strategist told me. "They're asking, 'Where did the money go?'"

Voters watch Fox News commentator Karl Rove on a big-screen television during a Republican Party election night gathering.
Voters watch Fox News commentator Karl Rove on a big-screen television during a Republican Party election night gathering.

Richard Viguerie, a long-time conservative activist, issued a statement that "in any logical universe" Rove "would never be hired to run or consult on a national campaign again and no one would give a dime to [Rove's] ineffective super PACS, such as American Crossroads."

There are ups and down in politics, and Rove is still a prominent voice in the GOP. But his reputation for brilliance as the conservative Svengali has taken a tumble and he is another casualty of Tuesday's election.

[SEE ALSO: 10 Dramatic Things People Did After Obama's Win]

Many Republicans had been sold on Rove as a brilliant strategist who not only led George W. Bush's two successful presidential campaigns but could also lead the GOP to better days this year and in the future.

"He over-promised and under-delivered," says a former senior adviser to President Ronald Reagan. "He seems to have just become a spin artist."

One of Rove's hallmarks was his success in the 2004 campaign by emphasizing the GOP base and bringing as many Republican voters as possible to the polls rather than expanding the universe of voters available to the GOP. This meant a heavy reliance on white voters, especially white men. But many are arguing that Rove's strategy has become outmoded because the electorate has changed. The percentage of white voters has declined steadily from 87 per cent in 1992 to 72 per cent today. Meanwhile, the percentage of African American and Hispanic voters has surged, and is voting Democratic, as are women and young people.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews, or on Facebook and Twitter.