Beached Killer Whale
Yesterday in my post on how the Republican Party can find its way back from the political wilderness I wrote this:
1. Professionalism-The Democrats and their campaign staffs approach politics as a business, if not a war. Republicans have for far too long tolerated well-meaning amateurism as a substitute for professional competence in politics. Politics is a job like any other, and professional staffs can help take a lot of the ineffectiveness and clumsiness out of our campaigns.
A prime example of what I was referring to is contained in this post mortem by Breitbart of the disastrous Orca get out the vote project of the Romney campaign:
Project Orca was supposed to enable poll watchers to record voter names on their smartphones, by listening for names as voters checked in. This would give the campaign real-time turnout data, so they could redirect GOTV resources throughout the day where it was most needed. They recruited 37,000 swing state volunteers for this.
I worked on the Colorado team, and we were called by hundreds (or more) volunteers who couldn’t use the app or the backup phone system. The usernames and passwords were wrong, but the reset password tool didn’t work, and we couldn’t change phone PINs. We were told the problems were limited and asked to project confidence, have people use pencil and paper, and try to submit again later.
Then at 6PM they admitted they had issued the wrong PINs to every volunteer in Colorado, and reissued new PINs (which also didn’t work). Meanwhile, counties where we had hundreds of volunteers, such as Denver Colorado, showed zero volunteers in the system all day, but we weren’t allowed to add them. In one area, the head of the Republican Party plus 10 volunteers were all locked out. The system went down for a half hour during peak voting, but for hundreds or more, it never worked all day. Many of the poll watchers I spoke with were very discouraged. Many members of our phone bank got up and left.
I do not know if the system was totally broken, or if I just saw the worst of it. But I wonder, because they told us all day that most volunteers were submitting just fine, yet admitted at the end that all of Colorado had the wrong PIN’s. They also said the system projected every swing state as pink or red.
Somebody messaged me privately after my email and told me that North Carolina had the same problems — every pin was wrong and not fixed until 6PM — and was also told it was localized to North Carolina.
From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of “rah-rahs” and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame.
Working primarily as a web developer, I had some serious questions. Things like “Has this been stress tested?”, “Is there redundancy in place?” and “What steps have been taken to combat a coordinated DDOS attack or the like?”, among others. These types of questions were brushed aside (truth be told, they never took one of my questions). They assured us that the system had been relentlessly tested and would be a tremendous success.
Ekdahl describes how volunteers were expected to print their own materials, and were mistakenly not told to bring their poll watching credentials to polling places. Attempts to communicate with the Romney campaign to ask for assistance were unsuccessful:
By 2PM, I had completely given up. I finally got ahold of someone at around 1PM and I never heard back. From what I understand, the entire system crashed at around 4PM. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I decided to wait for my wife to get home from work to vote, which meant going very late (around 6:15PM). Here’s the kicker, I never got a call to go out and vote. So, who the hell knows if that end of it was working either.
The phrase shockingly inept is too mild to describe this disaster on stilts that I am sure was a major contributing factor in Romney’s loss. Back in 2000 and 2004, in Illinois an icy blue state, my wife and I received several calls reminding us to go to the polls and vote for Bush. Dead silence from the Romney campaign this year. They had a billion dollars to work with in this campaign and if this is a sample of what they did with the money, it would have been better used to line bird cages.