A Tale Of Two Political Organizations

John Briare‘s post highlights a great story on how Team Romney screwed up a key aspect of the campaign’s GOTV operation. Allahpundit over at Hot Air has an even more devastating critique of Team Romney being out-hustled:

(Barack) Obama‘s team also succeeded by emphasizing personal, one-on-one contact with voters; there was an 11-point gap when voters were asked if they’d been visited at home by a campaign in Pew’s poll taken last week. Even with something as simple as buying airtime for ads, (Mitt) Romney reportedly used an unusual in-house system that made things more expensive than they needed to be. Again: This is precisely the sort of thing that he wasn’t supposed to be outmaneuvered on. His ideological heresies were worrisome, but the comfort in nominating him was that his campaign would be smart and efficient enough to fight Obama to a stalemate.

Instead, news is breaking tonight that even though Nate Silver and Drew Linzer and Simon Jackman and various other statistical modelers all had a high degree of confidence in how the election would go by the end, Romney himself was reportedly genuinely shellshocked when he realized he’d lost. (An NYT story on his address to staffers notes that defeat seemed to “genuinely startle him.”) According to a senior advisor, “I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming.”

With all the information they’d gathered from months of polling and voter outreach, no one inside the campaign had an inkling that Obama’s model of the election might be right? Even though Romney ended up trailing in the last national poll average before election day too? One Republican operative wondered to Politico whether the campaign’s cheery poll spin was a head fake, aimed at boosting GOP morale, or evidence that they just weren’t that smart. Now we know.

Yep. “Now we know.” It’s a pithy epitaph suitable for Team Romney’s tombstone.

About ConcernedVoterInMass


  1. Policymic’s Hamdan Azhar opines that the shabby treatment received by Ron Paul & his supporters during the 2012 GOP Primary & at the GOP National Convention may have soured enough “Paulites” to stay home:

    When Ron Paul went to the Republican National Convention in August, he brought with him the youngest delegation in the history of the Republican Party.

    How were they welcomed? When they arrived, their signs were confiscated and torn up before their eyes. The Maine delegation was summarily unseated and sent home because they contained too many Paul supporters. At the last minute, the Rules Committee changed the ballot access requirement from five states to eight states to prevent Ron Paul’s name from being entered into nomination. They even prevented his name from being mentioned from the podium!

    The establishment’s abominable treatment of Ron Paul supporters at the RNC was only the culmination of a corrupt and shameful primary season. In Louisiana, Ron Paul delegates were arrested when it became clear that they were in the majority at the state convention. In Arizona, desperate party bosses turned off the lights at the state convention to prevent Ron Paul supporters from being elected to a party position. In both Maine and Nevada, Romney campaign officials were caught distributing fake delegate slates. In Missouri, police were called to shut down the St. Charles caucus when a Ron Paul victory appeared imminent.

    “It’s a shame the party hasn’t been more welcoming of these young people,” confessed a Romney delegate to me at the RNC.

    Did it cost Mitt Romney the election? Azhar argues that it did. After citing statistical information, he concludes:

    What does this mean? Given two conservative assumptions – that the number of Paul supporters in these five states is at least double the number of Paul primary votes, and that 40% of these Paul voters stayed home on Election Day – we have a strong case for stating that Mitt Romney would have won the election had he earned the votes of these Ron Paul supporters.

  2. Republican Ram Rod Radio

    I have to know … in your heart of hearts do you really believe Mitt Romney was lighting victory cigars before last Tuesday’s counts were in?  Seriously?  


  3. I think everybody contributing to this site can come up with 11 different suggestions we made over the course of the campaign, a bunch of questions we asked that were never answered, glossed over, subject changed and so on.

    The biggest one is how is the Republican economic program different from Bush? I still don’t know and I voted for these guys.

    Most working women I know are in low-productivity, low-risk professions like education, non-profit, government. How is such a woman going to let go or sacrifice her job, or see her health insurance threatened when there is no clear path to higher reward work for the husband?

  4. John Dickerson of Slate Magazine has an excellent piece on the errors that doomed Team Romney on Election Day:

    (T)he Romney campaign was openly dismissive of the Obama ground game. Why are they wasting so much money with neighborhood offices, they asked? (In Ohio, for example, Obama had almost 100 more offices than Romney.) In retrospect, the Romney team is in awe and full of praise of the Obama operation. “They spent four years working block by block, person by person to build their coalition,” says a top aide. They now recognize that those offices were created to build personal contacts, the most durable and useful way to gain voters.

    Obama focused on person-to-person, network-driven, grass roots organization. Romney relied on an impersonal, hierarchical, technocratic campaign model. The results of the 2012 election clearly demonstrated which version worked.  

  5. Commentary Magazine columnist Bethany Mandel comments on Team Romney’s GOTV “fiasco“:

    One of the most basic tenets of conservatism is a loathing and mistrust of big government and bureaucracy. Project ORCA was the embodiment of big government, top-down management. Information was sent by volunteers in swing states across the country to Boston, and those in Boston were then tasked with assigning other volunteers in those same swing states to contact those who had not yet been to the polls. Boston was, at best, a detour and an unnecessary middleman in the GOTV efforts, and when that link in the chain broke, Romney’s GOTV effort crumbled on the most crucial day of his campaign. One of the most successful components of Karl Rove‘s GOTV efforts with George W. Bush‘s campaigns was his small-government ideological approach. Each volunteer was tasked with personally getting a handful of voters from their area to the polls, voters that they were already familiar with from their church, their children’s schools and their community. Instead of this strategy, Boston was the hub; information was sent there and GOTV assignments were delegated from thousands of miles away by Romney staffers largely unfamiliar with individuals and communities. At Ace of Spades, (John) Ekdahl described the organizational approach of Project ORCA: “The bitter irony of this entire endeavor was that a supposedly small government candidate gutted the local structure of GOTV efforts in favor of a centralized, faceless organization in a far off place (in this case, their Boston headquarters).”

    Was ORCA’s failure the reason why Romney lost Virginia by almost 116,000 votes, Ohio by 103,000, Iowa by 88,000 or why Florida is still, days later, too close to call? It’s impossible to know what a Romney campaign with working GOTV technology would have been able to accomplish. Ekdahl explained that with the failure of Project ORCA’s organization and its later meltdown on Election Day “30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated when they could have been doing anything else to help. Like driving people to the polls, phone-banking, walking door-to-door, etc.” The possibility that all of the efforts of Romney’s campaign, all of the enthusiasm, went unharnessed and dormant on Election Day when they could’ve at least led to a closer election result, if not a victory, is becoming beyond frustrating for thousands of his staffers, for the millions of Americans who gave their time and money to elect Mitt Romney president as they come to learn just what a disaster ORCA seems to have been.

  6. Let’s not forget the dismal communications non-strategy devised by Mr. Etch a Sketch Fehrnstrom, Liz Meyers and Peter Flaherty at Boston’s RINOfied Shawmut Group. Epic Fail by these fearsome Democrat-Lite shills. Their referendum on the economy completely ignored who was turning out and how to motivate the 12 million who were sitting on the sidelines and were repulsed by RINOism.

  7. Check out Atlantic Magazine Business Insider’s insightful article on how the nerds got Obama re-elected:

    They’d been working 14-hour days, six or seven days a week, trying to reelect the president, and now everything had been broken at just the wrong time. It was like someone had written a Murphy’s Law algorithm and deployed it at scale.

    And that was the point. “Game day” was October 21. The election was still 17 days away, and this was a live action role playing (LARPing!) exercise that the campaign’s chief technology officer, Harper Reed, was inflicting on his team. “We worked through every possible disaster situation,” Reed said. “We did three actual all-day sessions of destroying everything we had built.”

    So, it was with more than a hint of schadenfreude that Reed’s team heard that Orca crashed early on election day. Later reports posted by rank-and-file volunteers describe chaos descending on the polling locations as only a fraction of the tens of thousands of volunteers organized for the effort were able to use it properly to turn out the vote.

    This article should be required reading for any political operative thinking of running campaigns in the future.

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