Priorities USA had a laser focus during the presidential election: to define Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch, super-rich, ruthless business profiteer with little regard for the middle class and poor.
The pro-Obama super PAC accomplished this, according to interviews with Priorities leaders and confidential documents obtained by POLITICO, through a multi-pronged Internet strategy — targeting certain groups of Web users, buying search terms on Twitter and Google like “47 percent” and “dressage,” and airing attack ads featuring laid-off workers and plant shutdowns blaming outsourcing during programming on Hulu and Pandora to reach younger voters.
“The hardest hits on the Bain stuff were not coming from the Obama campaign itself because Obama didn’t want to be the nasty guy,” said Liz Mair, online communications director for the Republican National Committee during the 2008 cycle. “They came from Priorities.”
The combined metrics underscore the sense that many GOP digital strategists had throughout the cycle that neither the Romney campaign nor allied outside groups used the Internet effectively.
“They didn’t understand how it worked,” said Eric Frenchman, a McCain 2008 digital strategist who ran the Web component of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s reelection bid this year. “The biggest disadvantage was they didn’t understand what buying online meant.”
[Bill] Burton shares the assessment of his rivals. “They made huge mistakes on how they spent their money,” he said. “They had a huge organization that had a tremendous amount of money and they squandered most of it.”