Thinking Citizen Blog — “2020 Autopsies for Both Parties” (Karl Rove)

John Muresianu
3 min readJan 3, 2021

Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: “2020 Autopsies for Both Parties” (Karl Rove)

What are the lessons of 2020 for citizens who care about politics? There is no more experienced observer than Karl Rove. I have found him among the more insightful commentators on the political scene. Today a summary of his look back on 2020. What is the best article you have read recently related to political process? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. “Money can’t buy victory. Democrats outspent Republicans in every seriously contested Senate race yet flipped only Arizona and Colorado.”

2. Democrats showered $132.7 million on South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison against Sen. Lindsey Graham, who raised $109.3 million. Mr. Graham won by 10 points.

3. Kentucky’s Amy McGrath, a Marine veteran, received $96.3 million for her bid against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose bankroll was $69.9 million. He won by 19.6 points.”

NB: is he right? would Biden have won without Bloomberg’s well-spent millions?


1. “There was little ticket splitting, but it mattered a great deal. In Maine, Republican Sen. Susan Collins was outspent $75.6 million to $30.6 million. Joe Biden carried the state by 9.1 points. Yet Collins won by 8.6 points.

2. “Republicans led overall in both Georgia Senate races while Mr. Biden was carrying the state.Two of those three contest would give Republicans control of the Senate.”

3. “The modest amount of ticket splitting also gave the GOP House seats and helped them more than hold their own in state legislatures as once-solid suburban Republican voters found their way home down-ballot after voting for Biden or abstaining from the presidential contest.”


1. “Finally, outcomes aren’t foreordained, but elections can be decided by events that occurred months earlier. Mr. Biden’s South Caroline primary victory — after big losses in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada — gave Democrats the only nominee who could beat Mr. Trump.”

2.”The Covid-19 lockdowns robbed the president of a strong economy while his public comments during the pandemic highlighted many of his worst qualities and obscured his successes.”

3. “Republicans learned that diversity is a winner as female and minority candidates won many of their congressional and state legislative victories.”

NB: “Democrats would be wise to realize identity politics is a loser. The idea that anyone of any background can represent American values is more powerful than the notion that people need representatives who “look like” them.””


1. George W. Bush referred to Karl Rove as “the Architect” of his gubernatorial and presidential victories in the elections of 1994, 1998, 2000, and 2004. He has been called Bush’s “Svengali” or “kingmaker.” “If you really want to diminish a candidate, depict him as the foil of his handler. This is as old in American politics as politics itself.” (Rove)

2. He is a political consultant, policy analyst, and consultant having served as Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff from 2005–2007.

3. “I have become an adjective. There is something called a Rovian-style of campaigning and it’s meant as an insult. One columnist said it consists mainly of throwing mud until it sticks. One prominent blogger described the elements of a textbook Rovian race as fear-based, smear-based, and anything goes.”

Opinion | 2020 Autopsies for Both Parties

Karl Rove

Here is a link to the last three years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to political process or campaign strategy or 2020 candidate selection or anything else for that matter. This is your chance to make some one else’s day or change their thinking.

Or to consolidate in your own memory something worth remembering that might otherwise be lost. Or to clarify or deepen your own understanding of something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.



John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.