A few people have sent me this very thorough article from Ars Technica about the total failure of the IT platform that the Romney campaign built (and would have spent millions of dollars developing) as the main tool for their get out the vote (GOTV) effort.
Called “Orca,” the effort was supposed to give the Romney campaign its own analytics on what was happening at polling places and to help the campaign direct get-out-the-vote efforts in the key battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Colorado.
Instead, volunteers couldn’t get the system to work from the field in many states—in some cases because they had been given the wrong login information. The system crashed repeatedly. At one point, the network connection to the Romney campaign’s headquarters went down because Internet provider Comcast reportedly thought the traffic was caused by a denial of service attack.
As one Orca user described it to Ars, the entire episode was a “huge clusterfuck.”
The article goes in depth into some of the many failures of the project. Bad planning, testing, implementation and user training are all abundantly clear.
However, from my perspective, the attached video interview with Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho (see below) is far more interesting. Given, this was a pre-election interview, and she is obviously trying to over-hype their capabilities and seem more tech-savvy than they may actually be (of course, we’ll never know how tech savvy the Romney campaign was, but the Ars Technica article is fairly damning).
I fundamentally think their GOTV strategy is wrong. They don’t get it. I’ll leave it for you to draw your own conclusions, but enjoy watching the interview…
Update: One point I forgot to mention, was that I really hope that the failure of Project Orca doesn’t become a scapegoat for the entire campaign. There was a lot that went wrong for Romney, a fair amount of which was totally outside of his control. Having worked in IT, I know what projects like this can be like, and I know how easy it will be for some to sling blame at the IT team.