One of the more enjoyable Republican kerfuffles to watch is the fight over Orca, which was the Romney campaign’s…uh…um…
That’s the problem, I can’t figure out what the hell it for, or at least how they thought it could be effectively used for a clear objective.
The best I can figure is the Romney campaign tried to form up a kind of national posse intended to do two things: report who had voted, so the GOTV calls could drop them from the call universe and focus only on those who hadn’t yet voted, and secondly, to be a tool that polling site vigilantes would use to report voter fraud.
I started doing campaigns just before the explosion in technology that was available to volunteers and field staff. Cell phones, palm pilots for collecting and nightly reporting of canvass data, emails, web sites, online sign-ups, cyber-phone banks, social networking tools; smart phones, websites optimized for smart phones, remote access to voter file data, all have been widely adopted by campaigns over just the last 10-12 years. These technologies have revolutionized voter contact like nothing before.
But as the technology has spread, so have the tech guys and gals, and many of them have never sat in a phone bank before the age of predictive dialing and online dashboards. They don’t have an intuitive feel for how the tool will be experienced by the volunteer on the other side of the internet connection. As a result, they often push tools that create an activity, but don’t assist in achieving a goal.
The Romney campaign’s Orca project, according to the few (scathing) things I’ve read about it, failed massively at being user friendly. But it also seems Orca was, at least in part, a tool that wasn’t matched to a need. The Romney campaign didn’t need poll watchers reporting back who’d voted at any random polling sites around the country. They needed to identify the sites that were most important, and get people to those sites. Orca was passive, and surely, even if it worked, would have been an inefficient use of volunteer resources.
Again, I’m not fully informed about this program, so maybe it wasn’t as poorly planned as it appears. But as presented in what I’ve read, it seems like the equivalent of offering people hammers and saws and shovels, and sending them out willy nilly, instead of starting with a blueprint, picking a specific location, and sending the tools and people you need to that site, not based on their willingness to swing a hammer, but on your need to have nails driven.
And Mitt Romney was supposedly an expert manager.