Let's establish two things up front about Karl Rove - 1) he hates Ted Cruz, and 2) he's a fundamentally dishonest person. Also, while he may have had some success at running a campaign, he is utterly clueless about interpreting and forecasting results, as evidenced by the fact that on election night of 2012, after every network (including Fox News) had called the race for Obama, Rove was stomping around declaring angrily that the media had got it all wrong, even though it was perfectly obvious to everyone that Romney had lost.
So here he and all three of his chins are on O'Reilly last night, making the ludicrous claim that the non-controversy over a Cruz staffer's tweet actually cost Donald Trump the election:
Rove: Did you even read all three of his tweets? If you read all three of his tweets, at the worst, you're...
O'Reilly: But that's CNN's responsibility....
Rove: I don't agree.
O'Reilly: And the fact that they won't even apologize, or admit a mistake.. everybody makes mistakes! Everybody makes them! Admit it!
Rove: Hey, I'm making your case stronger, not weaker, don't be upset with me. [crosstalk]
O'Reilly: No I'm upset because Carson got jobbed...
Rove: Well, let's look at the second part of this, because at 7pm, the Cruz campaign, Spence Rogers, sends out a tweet and the tweet is headlined, the press says Carson is going to take a break. And then it says he's going home and he has a big announcement later this week. So tell all the Carson people to caucus with the Cruz people. This goes to, this is done at 7pm. Now you just Rick Tyler, the spokesman on who defended this saying, we only used his own words. Well, nowhere in Chris Moody's conversation with the Carson people does he say "I'm taking a break," and nowhere does he say "I'm having a big announcement later this week." They sent it out at 7:00. At 7:53, the Carson campaign sends out a thing saying, we're here, we're staying in the race, and we're going to New Hampshire and South Carolina." And at 8:20 - at 8:20 - the national co-chairman of the Carson (sic) campaign Steve King sends out a tweet saying, looks like Carson is getting out of the race. Now, they knew at this point that this was inaccurate.... they sent this to their nearly 1500 precinct captains, there are 1500 precincts in the state, and they sent this message to Spence Roberts (sic) to those precinct captains, now why does that matter? Now, the gap between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz was 6,239 votes.... do the math. If this message caused precinct captains in the precincts to say, well, your guy is getting out... if that cost Carson four votes per precinct to switch to Cruz, then Cruz beats Trump.
This is such a stupidly implausible conspiracy theory that you would have to be a committed Donald Trump voter to find it even remotely possible. Let's break down the problems with Karl Rove's theory one by one.
First, as Rove notes, the tweet was sent at 7pm, which is exactly when the caucusing started. The idea that this tweet from Spence Rogers even reached all or even or even half the precinct captains before the ballots were cast is absolutely ludicrous. Precinct captains are not sitting there checking their phones while the caucusing is going on, making sure to read the tweets of each campaign member. The idea that they even received this message, much less that they disseminated it, much less that anyone believed it, boggles the mind.
Second, the Carson campaign sends out a clarification at 7:53. If we assume that the tweet from Spence Rogers was magically disseminated and repeated in all 1500 caucus locations, then it would stand to reason that the Carson campaign's statement was equally magically communicated to each precinct location with just the same amount of effectiveness, right? I mean, if Rove is going to assume total and instantaneous accurate communication on the part of the Cruz campaign, why doesn't he assume it on the part of the Carson campaign? One might think that's because Rove is an anti-Cruz hack, but that would be an uncharitable thought, to be sure.
Third, Rove has no proof at all that Steve King ever saw the 7:53 statement from the Carson campaign, other than his apparent belief in the fact that everyone instantaneously reads and receives everything that is ever posted on the Internet, and also instantly believes it. But more importantly, by the time King sends his tweet at 8:20, the majority of caucus locations have already completed casting ballots. By 8:20, the media actually had returns in and reported from over 40% of precincts, which means that probably over twice that number had already received their ballots and were just in the process of counting them. So the King tweet is a completely irrelevant red herring.
But fourth, let's do the math. It has been noted ad nauseam that Carson already out performed his expectations which were about 7% according to RCP. Unlike Rubio, there was no buzz on the ground or anywhere else in Iowa that Carson was experiencing a late surge; in fact, quite the opposite. Yet surprisingly, Carson finished at 9%. But let's do the math, as Karl Rove says. If there were in fact 6,239 votes that were Carson's but switched to Trump, that means that Carson would have gotten 13% of the vote. Again, unlike Rubio, there was nothing at all to indicate that Carson's standing was rising throughout the last weekend of the campaign which would have made this plausible.
Here, in fact, is the polling over the last two weeks of Iowa - Rubio is the pink line, Carson is the red:
As you can see, although the polls understated the size of it, they accurately noted that Rubio was on a dramatic upswing over the last two weeks of the campaign. They showed no such indication for Carson. If Carson really had gotten 13% it would have been a truly stunning result.
What you are witnessing here is nothing more than Karl Rove's long-running vendetta against Ted Cruz, and he knows good and well that a lot of Trump supporters will eat up anything that supports their guy's theory, no matter how implausible, and so he spins this crap. Of course, what he is going to end up accomplishing is providing more impetus for Trump to run third party when Iowa refuses to re-do the caucuses, and for his followers to go with him. So, well done, Karl Rove.