Beached Killer Whale



Yesterday in my post on how the Republican Party can find its way back from the political wilderness I wrote this:

1.  Professionalism-The Democrats and their campaign staffs approach politics as a business, if not a war.  Republicans have for far too long tolerated well-meaning amateurism as a substitute for professional competence in politics.  Politics is a job like any other, and professional staffs can help take a lot of the ineffectiveness and clumsiness out of our campaigns.

A prime example of what I was referring to is contained in this post mortem by Breitbart of the disastrous Orca get out the vote project of the Romney campaign:

A source within the Romney campaign agreed to share his reflections on Project Orca with Breitbart News:

    It’s easy to point fingers after a loss and I wouldn’t normally do it, but consider what happened.

    Project Orca was supposed to enable poll watchers to record voter names on their smartphones, by listening for names as voters checked in. This would give the campaign real-time turnout data, so they could redirect GOTV resources throughout the day where it was most needed. They recruited 37,000 swing state volunteers for this.

    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. We were told the problems were limited and asked to project confidence, have people use pencil and paper, and try to submit again later.

    Then at 6PM they admitted they had issued the wrong PINs to every volunteer in Colorado, and reissued new PINs (which also didn’t work). Meanwhile, counties where we had hundreds of volunteers, such as Denver Colorado, showed zero volunteers in the system all day, but we weren’t allowed to add them. In one area, the head of the Republican Party plus 10 volunteers were all locked out. The system went down for a half hour during peak voting, but for hundreds or more, it never worked all day. Many of the poll watchers I spoke with were very discouraged. Many members of our phone bank got up and left.

    I do not know if the system was totally broken, or if I just saw the worst of it. But I wonder, because they told us all day that most volunteers were submitting just fine, yet admitted at the end that all of Colorado had the wrong PIN’s. They also said the system projected every swing state as pink or red.

    Regardless of the specific difficulties, this idea would only help if executed extremely well. Otherwise, those 37,000 swing state volunteers should have been working on GOTV…

    Somebody messaged me privately after my email and told me that North Carolina had the same problems — every pin was wrong and not fixed until 6PM — and was also told it was localized to North Carolina.

The problems with Orca appear to have been nationwide, and predated Election Day itself. At Ace of Spades, John Ekdahl reported his frustrations as a volunteer in the field:

    From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of “rah-rahs” and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame.

    Working primarily as a web developer, I had some serious questions. Things like “Has this been stress tested?”, “Is there redundancy in place?” and “What steps have been taken to combat a coordinated DDOS attack or the like?”, among others. These types of questions were brushed aside (truth be told, they never took one of my questions). They assured us that the system had been relentlessly tested and would be a tremendous success.

Ekdahl describes how volunteers were expected to print their own materials, and were mistakenly not told to bring their poll watching credentials to polling places. Attempts to communicate with the Romney campaign to ask for assistance were unsuccessful:

    By 2PM, I had completely given up. I finally got ahold of someone at around 1PM and I never heard back. From what I understand, the entire system crashed at around 4PM. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I decided to wait for my wife to get home from work to vote, which meant going very late (around 6:15PM). Here’s the kicker, I never got a call to go out and vote. So, who the hell knows if that end of it was working either.

The phrase shockingly inept is too mild to describe this disaster on stilts that I am sure was a major contributing factor in Romney’s loss.  Back in 2000 and 2004, in Illinois an icy blue state, my wife and I received several calls reminding us to go to the polls and vote for Bush.  Dead silence from the Romney campaign this year.  They had a billion dollars to work with in this campaign and if this is a sample of what they did with the money, it would have been better used to line bird cages.

More to explorer


  1. Donald, I am sure your analysis is correct. However, too many Americans are either apathetic about who rules them so long as their life style isn’t severely impacted (a situation whichh is becoming worse and worse for more and more), or they simply want the continuation of bread and circuses. Romney was the sane choice. I work with two liberals who are engineers. They are smarter and more knowledgeable than I. They love Obama. Period. No logic, nor reasoning, no facts will convince them otherwise. Did the Romney campaign screw up? Probably. But the real problem is the American people themselves. We get the govt we deserve.

    BTW, no sarcasm intended – I mean this sincerely. Have you tried your hand at politics? You’re articulate, well informed and better yet, a student of history. Additionally, you have the good sense to leave engineering and science issues to people who are real engineers and scientists.

  2. I ran back in 1984 in a Democrat district for County Board in Coles County, Illinois against an entrenched incumbent. I fell short although I got more votes from that district than any Republican had in many a moon. My opponent next year was indicted for mail fraud and eventually went to prison. I haven’t run for office since for three reasons:

    1. Raising a family and building a law practice.
    2. I despised going door to door and asking people for their votes.
    3. The party meetings were congealed tedium.

    The Romney campaign Paul fell down on a basic aspect of politics: in an election you need to get your voters to the polls, and that includes the apathetic, those in poor health and those who lack transportation. This alone, as tight as some of the states were, may have cost Romney the election. Obama’s vote total was down ten million votes. With a little bit of Politics 101 competence from the Romney campaign we would now be discussing expectations of the Romney administration.

  3. I had not read about this ORCA app. But, I feel that any computerized part of elections is much more prone to hacking than other systems that have no enemies.

    Here in MD, a computer science profesor who also volunteers and an election judge in Balto County, was allowed to used the touchscreen system before the election (2008 or 10, I believe). He assigned his students to break into the system and sabotage the vote. In his review of the results, he stated that he thought it could be done but didn’t realize it would be so quick and easy. Every one of his students accomplished the task within one hour.

    We still use that system, and based on the “results” of the question 4 gerrymandering vote, we will until the collapse of the state.

    I think that ORCA app was sabotaged, possibly from the inside. And I hope that in the future, some human intelligence will reveal a few of the other episodes of this crime.

    Cynical? Why, yes i am.

  4. Interesting. The one thing that never made sense to me was the low Republican turn out. I thought people were biting at the bit to go vote against Obama. I was starting to be convinced that the dems hacked key precincts computers and were able to wipe out X amount of Romney votes. Is it possible that the people who set up this “hi-tech” get-out-the-vote project were part of a sting operation?

  5. I smell a birth certificate.

    Republicans would be wise not to immediately suspect the other side for their failures. Dems in 2000 and 2004, and Republicans in 2008 ended up looking foolish by doing so.

  6. Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins University…for those that wish to read more. I heard him interviewed on the Ron Smith show.

    But don’t want to belabor that one system. There is plenty more where that came from.

  7. Another metaphor: the voters “pulling the wagon” are outnumbered by the voters “riding the wagon.” N.B. most blue states are huge, fiscally bankrupt, and will need Federal bailouts ala Greece.

    Eventually, the system (states and entitlements) will collapse of its own weight.

    It’s not the common good, “least of my brothers”, or KUMBAYA. It’s mathematics and the “gods” of the copy book headings.

    So, eat, drink and be merry as they did before the Flood.

    Those people have four more years, unexpectedly, to ruin everything and confiscate what’s left.

  8. My ultra low opinion of Republican political operations has been expressed already so I won’t belabor it. However devoting massive resources to the day Of the vote rather than the days Before the vote is so mindboggling that my expectations have once again been decreased. This is like an Army General training hundreds of soldiers to simultaneously signal how things are going on in their little foxhole in the middle of the battle rather than worrying about the ammunition, supplies and recruitment of the soldiers. If this is true you have just shown Romney to be a fraud at organizational strategy and analysis and as out to lunch as Obama. Just so Repubs know next time, Dems were going door to door around here the days Before the vote to pressure their voters to get to the polls and troubleshooting transportation issues.

  9. “Just so Repubs know next time, Dems were going door to door around here the days Before the vote to pressure their voters to get to the polls and troubleshooting transportation issues.”

    Dems always do, because traditionally their voters are less reliable at showing up. That is one of the reasons why they put such an emphasis on early voting and absentee ballots. Republicans usually just need to worry about getting out ten percent or less of their voters on election day, and apparently this year the effort to get out that crucial ten percent was thoroughly fouled up.

  10. They love Obama. Period. No logic, nor reasoning, no facts will convince them otherwise.

    That is your problem. Political choice has deteriorated into a species of consumer preference or identity statement. Politics degenerates into a series of painstaking negotiations over patronage among social pillars. See Lebanon, ca. 1955.

  11. Don,

    The level of organization by the Dems this year was far beyond what I have seen in the past. Despite their voters being extremely unmotivated they turned them out. The Repubs now need to turn out 15% of their voters.

  12. Art Deco wrote, “That is your problem. Political choice has deteriorated into a species of consumer preference or identity statement. Politics degenerates into a series of painstaking negotiations over patronage among social pillars. See Lebanon, ca. 1955.”

    We should never compromise with the infanticide of the unborn or the santification of the filth of homosexual sodomy or the stifling of religious freedom. One does not negotiate with either satan or his minions.

  13. Come on, Paul, no one’s talking about that. The House, Senate, and administration have to work together on some matters; that’s all.

  14. Yes, Pinky, I suppose you’re right. Even at my place of employment I work side-by-side with two engineers who are liberal, progressive Democrats and we get along very well so long as the topic is “neutrons ‘R us”. But I avoid every discussion of politics with them. I have nothing in common with them on that topic, and I cannot afford to lose these two as friends and working partners simply because we can’t stand each other’s politics or religion. So yes, I understand. BTW, the majority of engineers with whom I work are conservative, not liberal, and Christian, not pagan.

  15. Sure, it’s always easy to talk about neutrons, but conversations about protons and electrons are so charged.

  16. Yeah, I actually wrote that. Shame on me. But the more time non-religious people spend with reasonable religious people, the more they realize that a person can be religious and reasonable. Princple and charity on matters of principle; charity on all other matters.

  17. Ha! Ha! “Sure, it’s always easy to talk about neutrons, but conversations about protons and electrons are so charged.”

    Since a few days before the election I have been wearing my St. Benedict Crucifix to work – I am in a tie and sweater vest with the Crucifix proudly visible. No one – not even the irreligious – have voiced a problem with it. Even a senior manager from a European country saw it and never said a word.

    I can be religious, and be charitable and reasonable. In fact, doesn’t the religion of Jesus Christ require that? Rhetorical question.

  18. First of all, if you have any questions if the democrats view pplitics as a war, you’ve haven’t paid close attention to politics. If we viewd the War on Terror as much a war as the dems view politics as a war, al Qaeda would have run up the white flag long ago.

    Speaking of white flags, with the election hardly over, you have John Boehner already indicating he is ready to cave. When Bush won reelection back in 2004 and the republicans padded their majority in the senate, did then minority leaders Reid and Pelosi run up the white flag? No. They dug their heels in and kept fighting. They took back both the House and Senate two years later.

    Before we even talk about the need for professional campagin organization, we need to come to terms with the fact that the republican leadership, Boehner, Cantor, McConnell needs to be replaced. We need to learn how to fight hard. We don’t have to be dirty, like the left. But we do have to fight hard. As much as I despise the left, I do admire thier willingness to not give up. We need to start emulating thqt, sans the dirty part.

    Any professional restructuring in our campaigns needs to be placed at the service of the grass roots conservative movement, not one that looks down on them like the establishment goons Rove et al. Whatever faults the Tea Party has, and yes they have some faults. After all, they are relatively a neophyte movement and as such they will make neophyte mistakes. BUt if it wasn’t for the Tea Party, there would be no Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Rob Johnson, or Gov. Scott Walker (why Walker isn’t on more people’s short list as a 2016 presidential candidate is beyond me). They gave us the 2010 midterm victory and all they got in return is crapped on by the “professional” establishment. Oh, I almost forgot to mention what thaat idiot Cardenes who is now the head of the American Conservative Union said about the problem with old white guys. Yeah, parroting La Raza talking points is gonna be a winner for republicans…..ooookkkkaaayyy!

  19. Paul, when you have Boehner saying “Obamacare is the law of the land.” and giving up the fight against it on an ABC interview with Diane Sawyer, you get a sense that he is willing to cave on other things. At least he could have played it smart and shut his damned mouth!! You never ever, ever go into a political saying what you are willing to compromise. You go in projecting strength by having high demnds. So whe you compromise, you give up things that you never intended to get anyway. If you shoot for a whole loaf, you stand a better chance to get half the loaf. You shoot for half a loaf, you don’t even get crumbs.

  20. Boehner should agree to a tax increase with the following provisos:

    1. The elimination of a mass of agencies and programs, large and small. The Food and Nutrition Service, the Farm Security Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Education, all of three components of the Department of Health and Human Services and all but a residuum of two others, all of the Federal Highway Administration other than the component which builds roads on federal land, about 50 free standing agencies, &c.

    2. The elimination of every kind of grant to local governments other than small indemnities and every kind of grant to state governments other than those for Medicaid, unemployment compensation, Interstate Highway maintenance, and general revenue sharing.

    3. The elimination of every kind of grant to commercial or philanthropic agencies.

    4. The elimination of every kind of deduction, exemption and special credit in the tax code; the inclusion of every kind of receipt in the definition of personal income other than gifts, Medicaid, and Medicare; and the inclusion of real capital gains and real capital losses in that definition.

    5. The institution of a non-discriminatory value added tax to meet extant Social Security obligations and debt service obligations (with automatic rebates to the public at large of any excess collection).

    6. The elimination of payroll taxes bar general income sequestrations to fund private retirement accounts.

    7. The end of collective bargaining for federal employees.

    8. Funding (going forward) of all civil and military pensions and fringes (bar benefits for in theatre war veterans) by clipping federal employees’ stated wages and salaries (with no ’employers’ contribution).

    9. Maintaining Medicare and Medicaid expenditure as a fixed share of domestic product through adding an escalating deductible each year.

    10. Placing the federal retirement age on a cohort-by-cohort escalator so as to attain and maintain a fixed ratio of retirees to workers.

    11. Structuring personal income tax liabilities as follows:

    (Income x common marginal rate) – x$ per household member = due

    People with a negative liability would receive standard contributions to medical and long term savings accounts and (in some cases) a bit of free cash capped at a particular share of earned income.

    12. The placement of all manner of federal assets on the auction bloc (the Postal Service, AmTrak, the Export Import Bank, the Farm Credit System, various and sundry loan portfolios, &c.).

    I doubt you could get the Democratic caucuses to agree to even one of the above.

  21. I doubt you could get the Republican caucuses to agree to any of that either other than the Rand Paul caucus.

    Mitt Romney was explicitly against major cuts in spending as opposed to restraining growth which is all that Paul Ryan’s supposedly draconian budget does. I believe Connie Mack had the most draconian plan which was actually reduce spending by 1% each year for 5 or so years. Of course he couldn’t even beat Sen Nelson in FL.

    Given the far left Dems added to the Senate this cycle I think the country is in for a hard landing. And since NV and CA went easily for Obama with double digit unemployment a crash might only raise the Dems totals.

  22. You have reconceptualized the Democratic congressional caucus as Nietzchean supermen: anything that does not kill them makes them stronger. George Will thought this way about the Iraqi insurgency. It’s dumb.

  23. “1. Professionalism-The Democrats and their campaign staffs approach politics as a business, if not a war. Republicans have for far too long tolerated well-meaning amateurism as a substitute for professional competence in politics. Politics is a job like any other, and professional staffs can help take a lot of the ineffectiveness and clumsiness out of our campaigns.”

    Yes — politics/government IS the business for Democrats — it is how they and their constituents get money and earn a living — public sector jobs and government programs. Republicans are capitalists who are busy running businesses for money. Capitalists can always move their concerns to other countries if doing business in the U.S. hurts their bottom line — ex. the many firms who have relocated to Mexico and China. Republicans don’t necessarily rely on a friendly U.S. government for their paycheck. They have less incentive to get involved in politics and change how this country is run. It is too easy to go elsewhere.

  24. No Art I think they are very ordinary people. It’s their organization and zealotry that are making the difference. They repeat the message in a variety of different venues as Mr Zummo noted in another post. The omnipresent saturation of their talking points is evident when I talk to people not particularly political who blindly repeat it. I cited two very specific examples in NV and CA which perfectly illustrated my statement. You missed the chance to respond or dispute it in a specific way. I could have also cited other examples in a number of European countries who support the same destructive policies all the way down and riot for more. Some countries there have pulled back from that spiral such as the Scandinavian countries. It might be worthwhile to see what makes the difference.

  25. the person above who mentioned the Democratic tactics post-2004 (when they didn’t have a majority in either house) is apt.

    If there’s one thing I’d advise conservatives to do, it is: do not listen to any of the media talking points on how the GOP must “reform,” or the Beltway squishes who echo it. That isn’t to say certain things don’t need reform, whether we’re talking tactics, policy, candidate choices, etc. Just that the particular reform suggested by the media will obviously get us next to nothing with the intended groups. We cannot out-left the Left.

    i’m sure people on this site understand this, and i hope others don’t fall for it

  26. Here’s another side to the election story. In St. Lucie County, Florida, 144% of eligible voters voted and in some districts 99% voted for Obama. In how many swing states was this scenario repeated? This is from the official St. Lucie County website. Take a look: You might find this interesting – vote totals in St Lucie county Florida. 141% turnout! Amazing. A very effective political machine there:

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