I don’t get it. Why would the public side with Hillary Clinton over a guy who’s been infamous for years as a notoriously Machiavellian political operator, whom half of his own party now despises, and whose claim to fame from the last presidential race 2012 was spending gigantic sums on a losing strategy and then wrongly questioning the results in Ohio on election night?

Just think, if we’re very lucky, he’ll be back in the White House soon under President Jeb.


Even a plurality of Republicans disapproves of him questioning Hillary’s age and health. The numbers by gender are what you’d expect they are, too:


Hillary will, of course, cry sexism when questions about her health are asked during the campaign, notwithstanding the fact that those questions are always asked of older male candidates. Looks from these numbers like she might find a receptive audience, which will only make it harder for the GOP to close the gender gap.

Two obvious questions from all this. One: Is the public disapproval here chiefly a reaction to the subject matter or a reaction to Rove? It’s important to figure that out, obviously, if the GOP intends to press ahead with this line attack. We can replace the messenger while keeping the message — or can we? With Rove having assumed such a prominent role in pushing this argument so early in the election cycle, every subsequent iteration of it is going to be framed by lefties as being part of “the Rove strategy.” He’s put his brand on the age/health debate. Two: Does any of what I just said really matter to whether the age/health questions will help or hurt Hillary? The fact that people “disapprove” of Rove attacking her this way doesn’t mean they won’t still think about it when they go to vote. On the contrary, voters in past elections have freely admitted to pollsters that an older candidate’s age is a liability. Rove couldn’t care less, I suspect, whether Americans are annoyed at him for taking the lead on this; his goal was to raise public awareness about Hillary’s age and health and he’s achieved that. Voters’ natural inclinations to view older candidates more dimly through that lens will do the rest.