It turns out ORCA had not been fully tested before Election Day.
Reports from the field were devastating. One volunteer told Breitbart.com, “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. . . . Then at 6 pm they admitted they had issued the wrong PINs to every volunteer in Colorado, and reissued new PINs (which also didn’t work).”
Marc A. Thiessen
A fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, Thiessen writes a weekly column for The Post.
Another volunteer, John Ekdahl, wrote a blistering account of his experience on the Ace of Spades blog, concluding that “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 [l]ike driving people to the polls, phone-banking, walking door-to-door, etc.” The result? Romney was flying blind on Election Day.
Mitt Romney was not the cool candidate. He ran on competence. But having the data system your campaign is relying on to turn out the vote crash on Election Day is incompetent. Not testing that system before Election Day is inexcusable. And letting a community organizer run a more precise, data-driven, metrics-based campaign than a Bain Capital executive is incomprehensible.
In the coming months, Republicans will spend a lot of time studying why they lost and debating whether they should reposition themselves on issues like immigration. Those are discussions worth having. But they won’t matter one iota if the GOP can’t find a way to join the Democrats in the information age. In 2012, the Republicans were like a bag phone to Obama’s iPhone — when they needed to be a Samsung.
Asked by Politico’s Mike Allen what the biggest lesson someone running 2016 should learn from the Obama campaign, David Axelrod said: “I would invest in people . . . who understand where the technology is going and what the potential will be by 2016 for communications, for targeting, for mining data, to make precision possible in terms of both persuasion and mobilization.”
That is advice Republicans had better heed.
Marc A. Thiessen, a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, writes a weekly online column for The Post.