November 10, 2004

Optimism for Republican Gains in Rhode Island

Marc Comtois
As detailed in this morning's ProJo, Karl Rove went into a deep statistical analysis of where the Republicans gained in the electorate during the recent elections. One of his examples, surprisingly, was the increase the President enjoyed in garnering the vote of Rhode Islanders.
Kerry carried Rhode Island with 59.4 percent of the vote. Mr. Bush's 38.7-percent share was 6.8 percentage points higher than in 2000. Nationwwide, Mr. Bush's 51-percent majority last week was 3.1 percentage points higher than his total in 2000.
For my part, I guess this small, but significant, gain was obscured by the relative margin of Kerry's victory. Perhaps progress is being made.

Interestingly, Rove also made a point of warning against assuming that the much-talked about "moral values" issues were those that carried the day for the President.
"Be careful," Rove said more than once, of stereotyping Mr. Bush's victory as the work of evangelical Christians who flooded the polls in the heartland because they oppose gay marriage. Rove affirmed the importance of such voters and issues, but he said the true portrait of the 2004 electorate is much "broader and more subtle."
Indeed, Christopher Hitchens for one has pointed out that Bush improved in the secular/atheist vote over his performance in 2000. However, the one religious group in which the President made a substantial gain was Roman Catholics, where he experienced a 5% increase.

Finally, Rove confirmed something that I have suspected: there is a real effort at party building going on by the RNC.
Rove also said that Mr. Bush intends to help the Republican Party "grow our numbers" in New England and other areas that Sen. John F. Kerry carried. In a related matter, Rove hinted that Republican Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee may get a fence-mending White House invitation from a president determined, in Rove's words, to "serve all the people."

Rove hinted that "gestures have been made" from the White House to Chafee and other Republican moderates. Chafee later confirmed that, saying he has had more than one conciliatory phone call from the White House -- though not, so far, from Mr. Bush.

Rove also said that Mr. Bush was not irritated by Chafee's symbolic protest of writing in the name of the president's father on his ballot. "Look, he's a wonderfully independent guy and he's entitled to his opinion," Rove said.
"And he also runs in a very tough state."
Yes, he does, and it appears that political idealism is taking a back seat to political practicallity. This is not a bad thing, but as the Arlen Specter debate has revealed, it is a difficult spot for a conservative.