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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

GOP Campaign Problems: People, Tech, Centralization

Reid Wilson writes at National Journal:
In the annals of the conservative blogosphere, the creators of Project ORCA, an as-yet-unknown group of Romney and outside staffers, are part of the reason Republicans lost. It's something of a parlor game among Republican strategists, especially those involved in the technical side of the business, to guess which of their colleagues is at fault for ORCA's failure. It's a fool's errand; according to up-to-date tallies compiled by The Cook Political Report's David Wasserman, Obama beat Romney by more than 4.6 million votes, a margin far greater than even the best GOTV program could make up.
But it's clear that Obama's team was generations more advanced than Romney's. In a close race, turnout makes a difference; the investments Democrats have put into their technological tools have paid off, and will continue to do so.
Some Republicans worry that their trouble goes deeper than the bells and whistles of a nifty computer program. The party faces a lack of high-quality campaign managers, strategists with the track record of running and winning statewide elections who haven't left the business to open their own consulting firms.
The Hill reports:
President Obama's re-election campaign ran "the greatest digital operation in the history of politics," Zac Moffatt, digital director for Mitt Romney, said Wednesday. "I don't begrudge them."
In contrast, Moffatt said he thinks his team struggled the most with the rapid need to "scale out" and staff up following the extended GOP primary. "Build bigger" is his advice when it comes to digital teams for future presidential campaigns.
"We ran out of runway," he said, and described his dream scenario as one where he could put together a dream team of people at least two years in advance.
"If I could do it again, I'd do it as an incumbent," he laughed.

With the election over, digital strategists for both presidential campaigns seemed more than willing to put any animosity behind them at a panel co-hosted by CNN and Google in Washington, DC.
And the spending was centralized. PR Watch reports:
The hundreds of millions that mega-donors gave to Super PACs and dark money nonprofits in 2012 largely failed to produce a return on investment, with Barack Obama reelected and Democrats gaining seats in the U.S. Senate. However, a small cadre of media consultants, advertising experts, and strategists still reaped huge profits from the 2012 election, based on an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).
In 2012, the total spending of outside groups -- the Super PACs and dark money nonprofits which spend money to influence elections, but do so separately from campaigns -- amounted to about $1.3 billion. CMD (publishers of PRwatch.org) estimates that more than $482 million in outside spending, about a third overall, ultimately passed through just six media companies: ad production shops Mentzer Media and McCarthy Hennings Media, direct mail giant Arena Communications, online advertising firm Targeted Communications, Karl Rove-affiliated Crossroads Media LLC, and a mysterious Democrat-aligned media group called Waterfront Strategies. Some of these companies used the money to produce ads, others to purchase the slots where the ads ultimately aired, others to send ad mailers. Industry experts tell CMD that media buyers typically take a 10 to 15 percent commission on ad buys, but consultants involved in ad production or mailers may be paid an even greater percentage.