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Project Orca: How an IT Disaster Destroyed Republicans' Get-Out-The-Vote Effort 578

cheesecake23 writes "Many talking heads have attributed Obama's success to an unmatched 'ground game.' Now, inside reports from campaign volunteers suggest that Project Orca, a Republican, tech-based voter monitoring effort with 37,000 volunteers in swing states, turned out to be an epic failure due to dismal IT. Problems ranged from state-wide incorrect PINs, to misleading and delayed information packets delivered to volunteers, to a server outage and missing redirection of secure URLs."
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Project Orca: How an IT Disaster Destroyed Republicans' Get-Out-The-Vote Effort

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  • Re:Or... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Friday November 09, 2012 @05:43PM (#41936071)

    Ugh, Slashdot ate part of my comment due to a <.


    Yeah, in this particular election I think all these stories about GOTV efforts and ground games are unlikely to be pointing to real deciding factors. In a 2004-style election where the winner comes down to <1%, maybe. And this year, it's plausible some better turnout operations could've flipped Florida, which Romney only lost by 0.6%. But to win overall, he'd need to flip all of: Florida (0.6%), Ohio (1.9%), Virginia (3.0%), and Colorado (4.7%). The first is plausible, and the second is on the edge of possibility, but once you're talking about 5% shifts, that starts to get out of the range of what you can get from just better phone-banking.

  • Re:Serves them right (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bob-taro ( 996889 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:00PM (#41936287)
    It reminds me of an interesting passage from "That Hideous Strength". I loved it, but it's by C.S.Lewis and is not-at-all-subtly Christian, which I'm sure would offend a lot of slashdot readers.

    “But I don’t see how one’s going to start a newspaper stunt without being political. Is it Left or Right papers that are going to print all this rot?”

    “Both, honey, both,” said Miss Hardcastle. “Don’t you understand anything? Isn’t it absolutely essential to keep a fierce Left and a fierce Right, both on their toes and terrified of the other? That’s how things get done. Any opposition to the N.I.C.E. is represented as a Left racket in the Right papers and a Right racket in the Left papers. If it’s properly done, you get each side outbidding the other in support of us–to refute the enemy slanders. Of course we’re non-political. The real power always is.”

    “I don’t believe you can do that,” said Mark. “Not with the papers that are read by educated people.”

    “Why you fool, it’s the educated reader that can be gulled. All our difficulty comes from the others. When did you meet a workman who believes in the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in Mayfair Flats. He is our problem. We need to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the highbrow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They are all right already. They’ll believe anything.”

    I often think about especially that last bit when reading slashdot. Of course, later on in the story it says "Miss Hardcastle apparently overestimated the resistance of the working class to propaganda." (or something to that effect).

  • Re:Serves them right (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:07PM (#41936397)

    Republicans think the internet is a series of tubes...

    Ted Stevens has been dead a while, you can stop pissing on his corpse now.

  • Re:Serves them right (Score:5, Informative)

    by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:30PM (#41936697) Journal

    Just yours.
    Top ten states by % of college graduates - all democrats
    Bottom ten states by % of college graduates - 9 were republican []

  • by Jon_S ( 15368 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:37PM (#41936799)

    Political canvassing can not be restricted under anti-solicitation rules.

    Random google search reference: []

  • Re:Serves them right (Score:5, Informative)

    by rainmouse ( 1784278 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:49PM (#41936905)

    I am not democrat, did not vote for Obama either.

    Laughing about the end of these sorts of values is not hate, it is joy. Try not to cry yourself to sleep again. That was a joke by the way. In a few weeks you might even be able to laugh at it.

    You don't need to fabricate things for them to be funny. Sometimes the truth is more hilarious

  • by girlinatrainingbra ( 2738457 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:51PM (#41936923)
    re: now, imagine these guys running FEMA.

    Don't have to. Romney promised that he was going to get rid of FEMA once he got elected. That phrase certainly haunted him this last week prior to election day as Sandy's aftermath led almost all reporters to keep asking Romney about his FEMA comments. (!)


  • Re:Serves them right (Score:5, Informative)

    by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:57PM (#41936981)

    Any actual statistics to back that up? Or are you just spinning what you think reality should be into "fact". Because when people actually try and measure it, it turns out they do, and you're wrong: []

  • Re:Serves them right (Score:5, Informative)

    by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @07:18PM (#41937157) Journal

    Ideologically, Republicans are for lower taxes, thus, less control of government over an individuals money.

    Not any Republicans in my life time. And I remember Reagan getting elected. And tripling the national debt with military spending.

    I think you're thinking of fiscally conservative Republicans. But those don't exist any more. Literally, they've all died off it was so long ago.

  • Re:Or... (Score:5, Informative)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @07:49PM (#41937487) Homepage Journal

    Well, you don't win elections by having more people wanting to vote for you. You win elections by having more people actually get to the polls and cast a vote for you. GOTV is critical in winning a race unless you're are totally blowing the other guy away, as in CA where Obama got almost 21% more votes than Romney.

    Still, there's something in what you say. Obama's margins in the swing states this year weren't landslides, but they were pretty solid in a lot of those states:

    NV (6EV): 4.6%
    IA (6EV): 5.6%
    CO (9EV): 3.7%
    WI (10EV): 6.7%
    VA (13EV): 3%
    NC (15EV): -2.4% (Romney win)
    OH (18EV): 1.9%
    FL (29EV): 0.5%

    It's easy to imagine that without Obama's GOTV effort he'd have lost at least FL and OH -- and conceivably (although less likely) in VA and CO. Flipping all four of those states would shift 69 electoral votes, bringing Obama down from 332 to 263 and Romney up from 206 to 275 for a bare win.

    It's easy to imagine a better Romney GOTV effort flipping Florida, maybe even Ohio, but that's not enough. He'd have to scare up another 108K Romney voters in VA who stayed at home, and in Colorado another 85K. That seems unlikely, so an improved Romney GOTV operation alone would probably not have changed this election. You'd have to get rid of Obama's GOTV operation, in which case a successful Romney operation might *barely* have flipped this to the Republicans.

    What is striking when you look at these swing state numbers is that we're talking about eight states and less than 20% of the total electoral college here. To win, a Republican has to pick up 79 of those 106 electoral votes. A Democrat has to win 32. It's no wonder the math geeks were favoring Obama so early and consistently. Writing off almost the entire Northeast and California, Republicans have to sweep the three largest swing states to win. Things are going to get tougher on the Republicans. This year, even the Cuban-Americans in Fl favored Obama; within a generation demographic changes could flip Texas to the Democrats, unless the Republicans get their act together with Hispanics.

    So blame Romney's shortcomings as a candidate if you like. Blame his GOTV effort. Blame Karl Rove, Nate Silver, or even the 47%. But don't forget to blame the Southern Strategy. It gave the Republicans a good ride for a few decades, but change is turning it into a strategic millstone around Republicans' necks. Since George H. W. Bush vs. Mike Dukakis there have been six elections, of which the Republicans have won two but *barely*. Even with Obama's economic vulnerabilities, his 332-206 win over Romney eclipses the Republicans' strongest electoral college victory in the last twenty years (286 Bush to 251 Kerry).

  • Re:Serves them right (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @09:09PM (#41938367)

    Brooks discovered that approximately equal percentages of liberals and conservatives give to private charitable causes. However, conservatives gave about 30 percent more money per year to private charitable causes, even though his study found liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year in income than did conservative families.

    This is another one of those things I call a "true lie" - it is a shallow literal truth that is used to obscure a more meaningful truth.

    It is literally true that conservatives give more to charity than liberals. But it is a lie to say that means conservatives are more charitable. That is because the entire difference in charitable giving is accounted for by religious donations. When you take those out of the equation, both groups give roughly the same amount of money.

    When religious giving isn't counted, the geography of giving is very different. Some states in the Northeast would jump into the top 10 when secular gifts alone are counted. New York would vault from No. 18 to No. 2 in the rankings, and Pennsylvania would climb from No. 40 to No. 4.

    --The Chronical of Philanthropy []

    The problem with religious charity, aka tithing, is that it is not truly charitable. It is about giving money to something that benefits the giver whereas true charity is altruistic with no expectation of benefit to the giver. Religious donations are charity as defined by the IRS but are not charity as defined by common usage of the term. []

    In extreme cases the money can be "laundered" such that it counts as an IRS charitable deduction but then is used for something that is not deductible. One such example is the way the Knights of Columbus -- a religious charity affiliated with the catholic church -- spent $1.9M between 2008 and 2009 to fight same-sex marriage laws in Washington State. [] If a secular person wanted to donate money to a group like the Human Rights Campaign who advocate for gay marraige, it would not be considered charity. []

    Same thing with the way Mormons are expected to pay a 10% tithe to the Mormon Church. But the Church turned around and spent $22 million of that to defeat the pro-gay-marraige Prop 8 in california. []

You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.