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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

GOP: Missing Talent, Misunderstanding Technology

The Democrats are way ahead of the GOP on campaign technology. At The Atlantic, Patrick Ruffini warns that Republicans cannot catch up simply by buying stuff:
The most pressing and alarming deficit Republican campaigns face is in human capital, not technology. From recruiting Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in 2008, to Threadless CTO Harper Reed in 2012, Democrats have imported the geek culture of Silicon Valley's top engineers into their campaigns. This has paid significant dividends for two election cycles running.
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While there are many brilliant minds in the upper echelons of the Republican data and technology world -- including those who built the first national voter file -- the bench is not very deep. The Republican campaign world by and large does not demand technologically deep solutions, or much more than a glorified WordPress blog for campaign websites. Thus, the market largely does not supply them.

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Technology entrepreneurs are constantly fighting to "jump to the next curve," avoiding obsolescence to ride the wave of a rising technology from newness to maturity. We can partially predict what the mature technologies of 2016 will be by looking at what the new ones were this year.
Just as venture capitalists would reject pitches from companies aiming to become the next Facebook or Google, as their business models seem fairly secure, Republican donors should apply a similar framework to evaluating technology projects. Is the project trying to solve a problem which has already been solved, or whose relevance is on the decline? If so, they shouldn't invest.
Sometimes, problems persist for a long time until a shift in the technology makes a solution possible. Success with mobile donations has long eluded campaigns, until the Obama campaign's "Quick Donate" which stored supporters credit card information and allowed them, in the words of supporters I've tweeted with, to "drunk donate" with a single click.
If Orca had worked, would Romney have won?  Nope, says Christopher Bedford at The Daily Caller:
Here is where the whole farce unravels, because the short answer is absolutely not, because robocalling is stupid and doesn’t work.
And we don’t just take our own word for it (even though we have hung up on every robocall we have ever gotten): Robocalls have been studied over and over again, and they simply don’t turn people out, forget about in the tens of thousands necessary to turn Romney’s loss into a win.
Some bloggers have cited the number of additional votes needed for a win by Romney in swing states (66,379 in Nevada, 73,189 in Florida, 103, 481 in Ohio and 115,910 in Virginia), with one lead critic writing that if not for Project ORCA, the GOP could have turned these states around.
The intricacies of the effectiveness — or ineffectiveness — of GOTV operations are a big subject best left for the coming weeks, but that charge is, as one data wizard put it, “total bullshit.”
Because the hard truth of the matter is that 30,000 volunteers and a website — no matter how devoted and how nifty — don’t actually swing 359,000 votes on the final day of a two-year election campaign.