Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How To Run A Modern Campaign

Dick Morris had an interesting observation this weekend. He noted that despite a billion dollars spent on television advertising, neither side managed to change anybody’s mind. He concludes from this that television ads lack the ability to sway voters. He’s wrong. Anyway, here are some thoughts on how to run a modern campaign.

The Effectiveness of Television: Morris notes that despite 80% of advertising dollars being spent in the swing states, they only registered a 0.3% change from 2008. From this, he concludes that television ads don’t work. What he’s missing, however, is 2010. Had this election occurred in 2010, Romney would have blown Obama away in those same swing states. What changed between 2010 and 2012 was that in 2011, Obama began running negative ads against Romney in those swing states. This was before Romney had even won the primary. The result of this was that Romney’s negatives were 10% higher in targeted states like Ohio, than they were in demographically similar states like Pennsylvania. In other words, Obama’s negative spending was able to wipe out the gains of 2010. That’s effective.

Where Morris IS correct is that neither side was able to move themselves forward with their own ads. . . they were only able to tear the other guy down. But rather than buying into Morris’ sweeping declaration, let me suggest that the problem was the ads, not the idea of the ads. Here’s why they failed:
Negativity. Colorado was awash in ads. I saw them all. And only one ad truly struck me as something that made me hopeful for a candidate, and that was an ad Obama ran in the last 3-4 days. Before that, neither candidate gave me any reason to support them. Compare that to corporate America. They invest millions to come up with great ways to make you want their products. They rarely tear down a competitor, because that doesn’t make you want their product, and if they do, it’s just to compare themselves... “we’re faster.” Neither Romney nor Obama did that. There were almost no positive ads, and none of the negative ads offered you a positive alternative. It was basically Coke running ad after ad claiming that Pepsi is made from yak urine. How does that sell Coke?

Oversaturation. Even the best ads become grating when you see them 500 times and turn people off. If you’re going to spend the money, make a lot more ads.

Untargeted ads. Advertising is very carefully done to reach specific target audiences. New adapters are told a product is edgy and daring. The sheep who think they’re wolves are told they need the product to separate themselves from the herd. And the rest of the sheep are told they better get with it or the herd will leave them behind. Romney and Obama ran ads with zero targeting. They both simply recited “facts” in either happy or menacing ways. This made them useless because they “spoke” to no one.
This is why the television ads didn’t work. The next candidate needs to learn to see himself as a product and sell himself like he would a new electronic device or new car. Target consumers. Use a complete, creative campaign. And sell yourself, don’t waste your time tearing down the other guy... let the PACs do that.

Outreach: A decade ago, the NFL realized it had a problem. Kids weren’t watching the NFL and their market share was slipping. They set out to change that. They created a campaign to encourage kids to exercise, which just happened to use sports stars who pimped the NFL in the process. They paid for equipment for youths. They teamed with celebrities and they advertised. Their rating soared. The Republicans need to learn from this lesson. They need to start offering reasons for people to look to them as a positive force in their lives and not just as a political party. Let me suggest the following:
GOP Health. Every organization I know offers a group health plan. AARP does it. State Bar’s do it. Colleges do it. There is power in pooling. Why doesn’t the GOP do this for its 80 million members? They should have more than enough clout to get great rates, which will (1) give people a reason to join the party, (2) afford the GOP constant/free advertising as people get fliers or whatnot under the program, and (3) give people a reason to see the GOP as a force for good in their lives. This will help immensely when it comes time to vote, especially with small businesses and young workers with lousy jobs.

GOP Education. There are banks that will set up education savings accounts which let you put money in pre-tax accounts to be used for tuition. Again, the GOP should partner with banks to offer such plans to its members. This does the exact same thing as above and it shows the GOP’s concern with reducing the cost of college. This will help parents and young people.
It is time to think about how to attract people year round and to give them a reason to stick with the party long term. The above would do an effective job in terms of outreach, generating good will, and ensuring constant positive advertising.

Get Out The Vote: This election proved that both sides were horrible at getting out the vote. Once again, the Democrats appear better at handling election day, but neither party really scored because they basically relied on millions of annoying cold calls. This needs to be re-thought. I propose this:
Technology. Invest in computers to ensure better targeting. (Proven technology, not secretive ad hoc crap like Romney tried.) There is no reason I should have received 10 calls a night, and certainly not after I voted. Party workers should know who is registered and who isn’t, who has been contacted and who hasn’t, and what their demographics are.

Registration. Here’s the real key. Rather than waste money on phone calls and television advertising, the party needs to send volunteers house to house to every unregistered voter in center-right neighborhoods across the country and ask them in person to register. WHEN THEY DO, sign them up immediately to vote by mail. The ballots will come to them automatically. You can then call these people (who are now in your computer) a few days after the ballots get mailed out and ask them to vote. The return on investment on this will be huge! Why? Because (1) it happens before the “real” campaign starts, so it’s easier to influence them, (2) you have made face to face contact and you can provide them with information they need to be won over, (3) they are much more likely to mail in a ballot than take the time to go vote, and (4) the ballots will keep coming for each election thereafter. This is the real no-brainer which the Republicans need to focus on. Forty percent of the nation doesn’t turn out to vote, this can address that. Stop thinking of elections in 1950s terms... embrace change and exploit it.

Switch to Mail from Phone Contact. You seed to send fliers, not make phone calls if you want to reach people. Fliers don’t annoy people like phone calls. They also let people choose their own time to think about the race. BUT... make sure these fliers are unique, like a puzzle game or mystery or contest, to get people to read them. Be creative! Moreover, target your voters – first time voters, swing voters, reliable voters, old people, married people, single people, minorities.... they should all receive different campaigns. Companies do it because it works. We should too.

Election Day. Finally, this is when you do the things campaigns normally do, like helping old people get to the polls, calling people to remind them to vote and asking people to bring their friends. And if you've done the registration part right, you will have a lot more time to do this right because 50%+ of your voters will already have voted.
This is how modern billion-dollar campaigns need to be run. Join the modern world GOP. Learn from corporate America. They know how to sell. . . you don’t. Learn that a campaign needs to be run year round, every year, not just once every four years. Get professional guidance from corporate marketing specialists, not political hacks. And never forget, there is a science to all of this. . . it’s not an art.

Anything I missed?


Joel Farnham said...

Just one little twist on the Registration. Have those same volunteers travel to the Registered Voter and ask if they have voted yet. Phone calls may work, but it is harder to NOT vote if the volunteer is standing in front of the voter.

Also, at the time of the registration, you can ask if they prefer a van to come by or if they want to volunteer for helping out on Election day.

The real problem with ORCA was that it wasn't tested before Election day. Just a rah-rah conference calls with no chance to clear up bugs. And it wasn't an app for the phone with a list of voters.

Also, I think this would be best served if done in the Ohic, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia states. Not every state is going to need it.

It also has the added benefit of actually getting what people want and not what pollsters think people want.

Anthony said...

Andrew said:

● Negativity. Colorado was awash in ads. I saw them all. And only one ad truly struck me as something that made me hopeful for a candidate, and that was an ad Obama ran in the last 3-4 days. Before that, neither candidate gave me any reason to support them. Compare that to corporate America. They invest millions to come up with great ways to make you want their products. They rarely tear down a competitor, because that doesn’t make you want their product, and if they do, it’s just to compare themselves... “we’re faster.” Neither Romney nor Obama did that. There were almost no positive ads, and none of the negative ads offered you a positive alternative. It was basically Coke running ad after ad claiming that Pepsi is made from yak urine. How does that sell Coke?
Did you ever hear the joke about the two hikers and the bear? Two guys walking through the forest comes across a bear, which then starts running towards them. They both run away. One hiker asks 'Do you really think we can outrun this bear?'. The other hiker replies 'No, but I think I can outrun you'.

IMHO political campaigns are more analogous to two hikers running away from a bear determined to eat one of them than corporations selling products because they are not worried about other competitors and there will only be one winner and one loser.

*Shrugs* The bear analogy isn't perfect because there are minor parties floating around which gum up the works in close elections.

Joel Farnham said...

Also Andrew,

This is 50's thinking. It used to be people would go house to house to find voters. Now, you never ever see a politician going house to house. A politician is not really a bad word by the way and a volunteer going house to house is a politician. This is grass roots.

The information obtained in this manner is far more valuable. I would recommend that anyone so contacted be specifically NOT put on phone call lists by our party. It could be as simple as not putting their phone numbers down in the registration. This group should be a special group treated like royalty.

One thing you can find out by this canvassing is are they party loyal or do they vote for the Candidate? The party loyal types are the bread and butter. Akin, despite how insulting he was, would not have had that hard a time winning against McCaskill.

Anthony said...

Its worth bearing in mind that voter registation and absentee ballot procedures vary wildly from state to state (I looked up absentee voting in MD, VA, FL, TX and CA).

Of the five, only CA seems to allow anyone to designate themselves permanently as absentee voters.

In MD anyone can be an absentee voter, but each ballot must be requested and physically picked up (by the voter or a designated represenative).

Flordia is quite similar to MD although in FL, a single absentee request covers an election cycle.

TX requires the non-elderly or disabled to show that they won't be in the vicinity of a voting site on election day or during any of the early voting days.

In VA unless one is elderly or disabled one has to prove that one can't make it to the polls on election day. If one meets that burden of proof, one is given the opportunity to vote early (but in person).

Of course, all that stuff doesn't apply to people living abroad (including the military).

tryanmax said...

Wow, for the most part, your GOTV recommendations mirror what the DCRP (Omaha GOP) already does. I think all that is missing is the hard early-vote push.

I will say this, however: speaking from experience, election day is the worst day to be phoning people. No one needs a reminder what day it is, and anyone home to take the call just wants to forget. All you contact are angry people who just want the day to be over and the campaign to end. While no one is tracking it, I can only believe that the act fosters enormous ill-will among those called. I'm comparing the experience to much more extensive experience with outbound telemarketing. I've encountered some very angry people that way, but the people I've called on election day are in a completely different league.

Something else to consider: since the GOP has a "cool" problem, they should really court the celebrity endorsements. I'm not talking about paid endorsements--I don't think that will fly in politics. But even with the unusual number of celebrities who spoke out in favor of Romney, there was still a sense that the GOP was shooing them away. We need to show Hollywood that we are proud and happy to have them on board.

BTW, Clint Eastwood is great, and all, but is he the celeb you call up when you're saddled with an angry old white guy image?

tryanmax said...

Follow up thought on the phone calls: I know the Dems make great use of phone calling on election day. I think this is just one of those rare instances where what is good for the goose is not good for the gander. Perhaps it has something to do with the mindset of folks inclined to vote Democrat over Republican in the first place. Dems seem more willing to do (and vote) as they're told. Repubs seem to bristle at orders, more.

LL said...

I throw all of the hit-piece mail that I receive --- in the trash. And during the election cycle, I can receive ten pieces each day. So I'm not sure that mail is the answer either.

We may be in a place where the serious campaign cycle needs to begin four years out with a series of political appearances, and the multi-media approach combined with everything that you mentioned.

This is the difference according to H. L. Mencken-

Deep down in their hearts they know, as good democrats, that liberty would be fatal to democracy — that a government based upon shifting and irrational opinion must keep it within bounds or run a constant risk of disaster. They themselves, as a practical matter, advocate only certain narrow kinds of liberty — liberty, that is, for the persons they happen to favor. The rights of other persons do not seem to interest them. If a law were passed tomorrow taking away the property of a large group of presumably well-to-do persons — say, bondholders of the railroads — without compensation and without even colorable reason, they would not oppose it; they would be in favor of it. The liberty to have and hold property is not one they recognize. They believe only in the liberty to envy, hate and loot the man who has it.
-- "Liberty and Democracy" in the Baltimore Evening Sun (13 April 1925)

And the GOP runs in the face of that natural 'human inclination' that drives a certain type of people into the Democratic Party's orbit.

Tennessee Jed said...

It strikes me that a lot of this is just hard to know. I do think the negative ads early on really, really, hurt, and put Romney in a huge hole. In retrospect, it is too bad he was not in a position to counter that stuff early on. As much as I liked Romney,(let's face it, I was his demographic) I understand he could be an easy target--basically an old affluent white guy. Another thing Romney had to fight-- The main stream media under covered his campaign. Almost every night, the local news would lead with Obama's speech of the day. Being in Tennessee, I didn't get the level of barrage as the swing states. I think Romney needed to really push how he was going to help create jobs in small business rather than merely raise stock prices.

obiwan2009 said...

One of the big words I have for any given year is "implication". What I mean for that is give out some words which at least imply that it's good for another group. Few things disappointed me more than the fact that the GOP couldn't at least focus party advertisements on some facts that were covered by say, Romney in the debates. If a PAC could at least argue that, "we're here to be efficient by replacting a few dollars from the bailout budget with money, or an initiative to help hire more teachers, that would probably have sounded better to some people. Anyways, take what I said with a pinch of salt because I am still on my morning caffeine high right now.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, From what I've read, ORCA was a disaster. They kept is secret so on one saw it until election day... TECH NEEDS TRAINING! They never beta tested it properly. And from the sound of it, it didn't even do the things they really needed.

Good point about visiting people. The ballots tend to get mailed 1-2 months out. So that gives you plenty of time to visit these people in person and/or call. Again, a decent spreadsheet would be enough to know when you've made contact with these people and in what ways.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I do know that joke, but I'm not sure it applies to political parties. Political parties seem to have gone from trying win customers to trying to deny the other guy customers. And the result is that they've shrunken both of their market shares to their true cores. The analogy would be two insane dictators determined to destroy each other.

The reason people like Reagan and Clinton worked so well (and Obama in 2008) is because they weren't like that. They presented people with hope for something better, not fear of something worse.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I would definitely include a series of questions for the volunteers to try to get answers to (like a marketing survey) which lets you better target these people. Find out who is loyal, who isn't, if they are social/economic/both conservatives/liberals, what issues matter to them, how often they vote, etc. etc. All of that is key information that can be used to motivate them. That's really how marketing works and it does work, yet our politicians never do these things. They treat voters as either ON/OFF.

On going door to door, the best thing any politician can do it meet people. I know several people who voted for people they shouldn't have simply because "they came to my house and I met them." Obviously, a President can't do that, but everybody else can. And a smart politician will go meet people every so often.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, Understanding state laws is key for any campaign. In any event, look at the trend, not just the present. Voting by mail is the future and it's going to keep getting easier, unless the Republicans stop it (which is a losing battle). Ten years ago, it was only allowed in strict circumstances. But now there are states like Colorado that go entirely on autopilot, and more of them are joining Colorado every day.

It's time to drop this fear of early voting that Republicans have, push these laws in ways that work for us, and then exploit them.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That may be true about calling on election day, I'm not sure, but that's why you treat this like a marketing plan and you test it -- focus groups, surveys, etc. That's how you fine tune the details. So it would be smart to try to find out when people would like to be called, how often and at what times.

The early voting push is key. If you could get 100% of your people to vote a month in advance, then you do it. That ensures you plenty of time to get those votes, increases the likelihood you can get them to vote, and frees up resources for election day. Unfortunately, the GOP (read: old white guys living in the 1950s) freaks out about early voting because that's not how it was always done in the past. That's the same mentality that keeps them from embracing anything other than what's always been done. That mentality needs to change.

Political parties are companies and they are selling politicians and ideas, and those need to be packaged properly, they need to be sold to target markets, and they needs to be constantly reinforced. Coke runs ads 24/7 not because they think you will see the ad and run out and buy Coke, but because they know that they need to put a positive image in your head so that the next time you buy a cola, you prefer them. Our party thinks of itself as something which sells itself because people already want it and they view campaigns as something you do for a few weeks every so often just to remind people. That's wrong.

Totally agree on the celebrities. As much as I hate it, people love celebrities -- it's part of the herd instinct again. So the more celebrities (particularly young ones) you can get, the more "hip" you will appear and the more acceptable you will become to the herd. But again, I go back to Rush and others scoffing and mocking Clinton for hanging with celebrities and attacking his claim that everything is political. That showed a real blindspot that the party still hasn't fixed. I see it every time I write an article about politics and films and people respond with "films are just entertainment." That's stupid and shortsighted, but it's the majority view in the stupid party. Celebrities matter, but we don't exploit them.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. I heard Rush briefly yesterday and he was claiming that the reason we lost was that we didn't run "genuine conservatives." I'm sorry, but he's completely lost his insight.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The thing is, if you do the early voting right, then you don't even need to worry about making phone call. Think about that. If you could basically eliminate the most annoying aspect of political campaigns.

Jen said...

I don't watch TV except for the weather report. Mike Pence was the only major candidate in my state who was running positive ads. I did not see him attack his opponent.

My district state rep went door to door during the primaries, and he beat the establishment pick by a pretty good margin. I talked to him twice, and he seemed more than willing to listen to what I had to say.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, The mailers may not work on you, but they do work. Keep in mind that what you are looking for are things that work for the target and nothing will ever work 100%. The key is to find out what is likely to work and then adjust.

Also, on the mailers, there are two other keys. First, pick your targets better so that you give people a message that works for them, rather than sending out one generic message. Secondly, make them interesting. Right now they are all just generic.

But keep in mind that mailers (1) let people read them at their own time, (2) read them as long as they want, (3) re-read them if they need, (4) read them to their friends, and (5) pass them on. Phone call do none of that. They're also a really cheap way to reach people.

In terms of Mencken, he's right, but that's also not relevant. Just because liberal votes think differently doesn't change the fact we can still get conservatives and moderates to support. The biggest thing the party could do would be to let me re-write the platform. It would be about 5-10 points, written in common sense that anyone could agree with.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Fighting the MSM is a problem, that's for sure. But keep in mind that Reagan faced the same problems and he won. Plus, we're now making huge inroads on the MSM. They aren't nearly as important as they used to be.

On not knowing, I disagree. These are things that corporations have done for decades now. They've proven it works. The problem is that Republicans can't grasp that they are selling a product. They still view politics as something different, when it really isn't.

A political party is nothing more than a company looking to sell a set of ideas. We need to finally realize that.

tryanmax said...

Rush has descended into the world of buzz-talk. No one knows what a "genuine conservative" is b/c it has never been defined. But it appeals to all those folks who think of themselves as genuine conservatives. Whatever minor difference they had with the candidate in question becomes the reason why he lost. (Or if he wins, it proves he's just an establishment scoundrel.)

I kid you not, the day after Murdock beat Lugar, I heard Mark Levin raise the specter that Murdock may not be conservative enough.

Ironically, all it would take for someone like Rush or Levin to do is declare any random so-and-so to be "a genuine conservative" and their listeners would suddenly be unable to find fault with the guy.

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan, You put your finger right on a big problem for the GOP -- tunnel vision. If spending is bad, they argue that spending is bad. If tax cuts are good, they argue that tax guts are good. They never think to connect these arguments to people. They argue theory over and over.

They need to learn to connect the dots. "This hurts YOU because...."

tryanmax said...

RE: the most annoying aspect of political campaigns. To that end, GOP candidates need to consolidate their efforts more. Many of the angry people I've called believe they've been contacted by the campaign by phone several times before. On the campaigns I've worked, that is verifiably false (though I would never argue that point on a call).

What seems to be happening is they get calls from all the various GOP candidates night after night and all they are remembering is the party name. Rather than the campaigns focusing on the call, it needs to go back to the party. Have the party make a single phone call on behalf of all the candidates on the local ballot and be sure the volunteers are ready to answer some basic questions. (Like, who is running for my utilities district.)

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, It is the rare politician who loses after meeting most of their district face to face. That is very powerful. And it carries over for years.

As for not watching television, again, that's not relevant folks. Just because you don't like something has NO BEARING on whether or not it's effective. This is what Republicans need to learn: people are different and just because a rapper or a mailer or a television ad or a free beer wouldn't attract you doesn't mean they don't on other people.

When you market something, you figure out (1) HOW to target different groups (i.e. how to reach them) and (2) what message each group wants to hear to buy you stuff. It is vital that GOP people stop seeing the world as "this is what works for me, so that must be how you do it."

Individualist said...


"Ironically, all it would take for someone like Rush or Levin to do is declare any random so-and-so to be "a genuine conservative" and their listeners would suddenly be unable to find fault with the guy. "

I have to disagree. If Mark Levin would come out and say Romney is a genuine conservative or really anyone for that matter who made it as a serious contender to the big show then conservatives would just fault Levin as not being conservative.

As to what a genuine conservative is that is simple. The problem is that the individual does not exist because he or she can't exist in this political climate.

In my opinion anyone that effectively eliminated the deficit and created a true surplus (not a bogus take SSN money accounting scam that Clinton did) that is then used to reduce our National Debt would unarguably be a Genuine conservative in the eyes of anyone in the party. Anyone, be they Ronulans for Paul, Hardline Levinites, Rush babies, moderates or even Bill I am just as Pleasant as any Liberal Bennett.

Our problem is that no one can do what we want and won't be able to do it until we have 60 Seanate seats, a house Majority and the Whitehouse.

Universal Healthcare was such a unreachable panacea for Dems but they manipulated themselves into that position and forced it down everyone's throats.

This is the Catch 22 we are in......but balancing the budget may soon become something none of us have a choice with given out debt rating....

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think you're right about Rush and I think it's way more cynical than that even. Rush and the others have learned that they can most easily maintain their popularity by declaring themselves more conservative than everyone else. Basically, they have positioned themselves as permanent attackers of conservatives because that is the only "safe" position for them because that way they can never be accused by their audience of having sold out.

And since there is no such thing as a "genuine conservative" they can do this every time because no one can line up the candidates they attack against a chart to see if they are right.

The end result is that they are working their listeners up into a victimhood-mentality where they are SURE that if only the powers that be (Rush's personal friends) would somehow just listen to the real conservatives, everything would work out.

This prevents Rush from ever needing to tell them the hard truths (or even bothering to understand them) and it lets him paint himself as a hero when, quite frankly, he has become a villain.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. The candidates need to work together. That's why I think this should largely be a PARTY thing. The party should be the focal point on this so that the candidates are largely plug and play, with the particular messages left up to each candidate but the structure handled by a professional organization that does this year after year, and any extra level of effort handled by candidate volunteers.

The one fly in the ointment will be PACs. They are largely beyond the control of the candidates and I can tell you that most of the calls I got were from PACS. They are ultra annoying.

Joel Farnham said...


I don't think you understand what I mean by a politician. Arguably you are one.

Also, I agree with the PACS. Why do you think I don't want to add the phone numbers to the Database to be created. The last thing any one wants is a PAC souring our voters with Dick Morris or Karl Rove robo-calls.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, There is no such thing as a genuine conservative because there's no agreement on what views are conservative and what aren't and which ones you need to have. Your definition, for example, ignores abortion and I can tell you that there is a huge chunk of the party that thinks abortion is the only issue that defines a conservative. Others would argue that your definition is not good enough because you don't propose eliminating the federal government.

Also, let's be honest. If you took all of Romney's views and lined them up against Rush's views, you would pretty much find 100% agreement. So the fact Rush attacks him as not a genuine conservative is proof that Rush is full of crap. He's not being honest about Romney, he's selling himself as "more pure" than anyone else and he's using unfair attacks to make that happen. It's pure cynicism.

And I'll tell you what else. If Santorum had won the primary, Rush would be doing the same thing. He would have immediately "discovered" that Santorum is a socialist and not a genuine conservative. This is about maintaining Rush's image, not helping conservatism.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, The problem is that the PACs can buy phone lists from the same place marketing firms do. So they will always be able to call people. And unfortunately, there's no way to coordinate with them to tell them whom not to call. The best you could do would be to ask them to donate money to the party rather than make calls.

I get your point about politicians and conservatives need to learn that. We are basically all "politicians" or ambassadors for our ideology and we need sell to the people we know. If every conservatives could convince one more person to become conservative, to support the Republican, and to vote, we would blow the Democrats away. But most conservatives are averse to that because they again see politics as something separate, done once every couple years by a politician. They don't get that it's really a 24/7 365 game that should be done by all of us.

T-Rav said...

Yeah, I can't agree with Morris' claim that TV ads don't work. They do.

As far as registration drives and GOTV go, here's my thoughts: I was pretty heavily involved in the McCain campaign. We did extensive calls for months, weeding out supporters with door-to-door and phone contacts. (Personally, I thought we did this too long before getting in touch with those supporters, but oh well.) Then for the last four or five days before the election, we did extensive GOTV, calling the people we'd ID'd as McCain supporters and making sure they were going to vote, and then making sure on Election Day that they did vote. It was a massive machine the last few days, and I'm sure it's what delivered Missouri to the red column.

For whatever reason, the Romney campaign seems to have utterly failed on this last step. From not keeping updated lists to not coordinating with volunteers to not having enough poll watchers, someone dropped the ball in a big way. Having the right ideas is great, but it doesn't help if you don't turn out your supporters.

On a final note, I think it should be pointed out that Pepsi is not made from yak urine. Diet Pepsi is made from yak urine.

tryanmax said...

Indi, let me just say that Andrew just saved me from going off the handle. I was about to say the same thing, only my words wouldn't have been so tempered.

Let me just say that, after this election, there are many, many prominent "conservatives" who have lost most if not all of their esteem in my eyes. They proved to be very savvy at media manipulation, but they failed to use their powers for the good of the country, choosing only to benefit themselves.

The sad irony is, most of these personalities are so incredibly popular, they faced no risk in doing the right thing. And if what you say is true about "genuine conservatism" then they could have all easily backed Romney and yet chose not to.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, do I then dare ask what Diet Mountain Dew is comprised of?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That's always a danger, that no matter how well you plan... you don't execute. Apparently, Romney's team was relying on their ORCA system, which failed.

To fix this problem, I think the party needs to (1) shift the focus to the longer terms. Do the registration stuff year round rather than trying to do things at the last minute. The more you can do before the last minute, the less pressure you put on the system.

And (2) the party needs a professional infrastructure. They need people in place in every district who do this for a living, who keep the system running smoothly so that when new candidates are picked and they show up with their volunteers, all they need to do is plug in the new people and the new messages. That eliminates these problems we hear about constantly where campaigns stumble because they don't know what they are doing or forget something because they are novices.

Right now, we basically recreate the wheel every four years by people who've never built a wheel before. And they rely on political hacks like Karl Rove who claim they know how to build wheels. That's a horrible way to do it.

It would be much better to establish this infrastructure, which works for all candidates on the ballot, which combines effort, which makes sure that all the bugs are worked out and things run smoothly. Professionalism pays.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. I'd heard that about Diet Pepsi. Terrible stuff.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm glad I could keep you from losing your mind! LOL!

I agree with you and I'm really not happy about it. I look out at people like Rush and Ingraham and I honestly see a group of villains at this point. Not only did they sabotage this election as a way to make themselves more popular, but they are acting in a very self-righteous way and are actually trying to wrap themselves in the victim cloak. They are also sabotaging the future already with this insanely disingenuous idea that "nothing is wrong, we just need a more perfect candidate."

They have become like those movie characters who tell people "nothing is wrong, do nothing" when you see water pouring into the ship. And they are telling their viewers to fight and undermine the very change we need to save the future.

The one guy I actually give credit to right now is Sean Hannity (who I normally despise) because he's the only who has pointed out that these gaps with minorities need to change or we are done.

AndrewPrice said...

Diet Mountain Dew is made from 98% pure and love.

T-Rav said...

And monkey urine.

AndrewPrice said...

Only 1.5%.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, from my personal experience, I can affirm that there is far too much turnover in these campaign organizations. There are a few people who are professional staffers providing oversight, and some volunteers who are committed cycle after cycle and know what they're doing. But a lot of them have just been picked up by whoever, not necessarily with any qualifications or even personal interest in what was going on. Rumor had it after the fact that one of the people I worked with in '08 was a Democratic plant, which wouldn't surprise me because the screening process is so half-baked.

As a further anecdote, I read last night that after things went DOA Election Night, the Romney organization dismantled so fast that staffers going back to their hotels after the concession and all was finished found their campaign credit cards had already been canceled. Which is bad. I understand not wanting to keep paying hangers-on indefinitely, but...not even that one night for lodging?

Like I said, there was a screw loose somewhere. Probably several, in fact.

Joel Farnham said...


That last about the cards getting canceled doesn't sound like Romney. I think it was set up prior to the election. Something like should Romney lose, this group of cards gets canceled. Which staffers lost their cards? I bet most of them were last minute people that were told the cards were going to be canceled should Romney lose.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, A couple points.

1. That's asinine and unacceptable to cut people off without even the one night. But it also highlights the problems with these campaigns. They are run by prima donnas and fools from the top who are shooting from the hip, and they make tons of mistakes all over the place.

2. Having a professional staff in place who do this regularly (keep in mind there are campaigns every two years) would eliminate most of these problems. The key would be that they are treated like managers rather than ideologues and this would be their job, i.e. they would be judged on performance of function, not zeal. And their job would be to run the "machinery" and to plug in the volunteers to make sure it all runs smoothly. Messaging and that stuff would be handled by the candidates.

3. There's really no reason to worry about plants or spies. None of this stuff would be secret. It's just about execution really... can you make the contacts, can you distribute material, and can you make sure that your people are updating the information and executing their responsibilities effectively and efficiently.

The only secret really would be the data you collect (which should be protected) and the precise messages the candidates intend to use -- which would be handled at a high level and could be kept secret until it is delivered locally to be used. At that point, it has no value as a secret anymore.

tryanmax said...

I would think maintaining a continuous staff would be cheaper than rehiring the positions every two years.

AndrewPrice said...

It also allows you to maintain quality because these people would know their jobs and have the benefit of experience.

It may cost more in the long term to maintain these staffs, but when you're talking about billion dollar campaigns, the cost isn't that high, especially as part of it would be shared by every campaign the run as a Republican in the area.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, it kind of depends on where you're placed in the campaign. If you're in the position I was in--okay, it wouldn't be widespread, but you could do significant limited damage. For example, I could have acted like a complete jerk to people on the phone or door-to-door, enough that they would see the GOP campaign as nasty and maybe change their support or not vote. If you're a little higher up, it would be possible to really sabotage the local GOTV work by not reporting numbers or screwing up call sheets or whatever.

Anyway, my point wasn't that having a plant would be so disastrous in itself, just that they weren't doing a very good job of checking people when they hired them. And yes, a professional staff (or at least a staff you knew would be available for the next election cycle) would take care of a lot of these problems.

T-Rav said...

Joel, it was mostly a lot of Romney aides. And from the way the article I read was worded--though it was from NBC, so grain of salt and all that--they didn't know the cards would be canceled. Either way, it's really bad form; and while it doesn't sound like Romney, neither does the haphazard GOTV effort, and yet, that happened.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, True. That's always a danger. But again, I think having a professional staff would be help that a lot because they would be best equipped to put in place quality control systems that let them monitor the volunteers to make sure something like that either can't happen or can't happen very long. Again, no system is perfect, but the more professional you can make something like this, the better the chances of minimizing all these problems.

There is no reason that a political party that contest every election in the country every should ever have candidates who fail to file their paperwork on time or in the right places, who fail to get necessary signatures, who fail to do whole chunks of things they need to do to GOTV. Those are mistakes that shouldn't happen and I think the above fixes that.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I think it would too and I personally believe the "Outreach" section is potentially the most important part of that. In very real ways, the Democratic organization has formed a subculture of its own, which helps to get its voters to the polls over and over again; the GOP has some associations like that, but not on an extensive basis. A lot of crap could have been avoided if we'd had health/education/other groups twenty or thirty years ago.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I agree. It's not sexy, but it's highly effective. It gives people a reason to like the party and to want to see it succeed. That buys goodwill and it helps the party overcome other potentially rough spots.

Also, if it offers things in the health/education arena, then it becomes that much harder to say that the GOP doesn't care about those things. And those are things that would help the very people we currently lose -- young people and young families.

This is something the Republicans need to realize, the Democrats are more than just a political party, they offer things to their members to keep them loyal, and it works.

And again, look how close the numbers are. If something like this could even swing 2% of voters or bring another couple percent out of the shadows, we're looking at a blow out.

Joel Farnham said...


I found this comment at HotAir. I think it explains somethings about Ohio and maybe a few other places.

Forget Project ORCA. Romney’s entire ground game in Ohio was terrible, and was since the primaries when Rick Santorum came within a hair’s width of beating him in Ohio despite having a shoestring budget. Romney’s guys made no attempt to coordinate efforts with local folks on the ground, listen to their concerns, or even competent organize them. Instead, everything was run out of a cocoon in Boston or Columbus (Ohio’s state capitol) and nobody communicated, volunteers were alienated, and so forth.

And in a retail politics state like Ohio, that can make the difference. Hell, we had first-time Republican local judicial candidates beat Romney’s vote totals in Cuyahoga County alone. . .

Outlander on November 13, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Do we know of anyone from Ohio? And what I heard from the Romney Group was that at Ohio, they really, really tried.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I don't know anyone who can confirm or deny this. I can say though that these types of stories always happen with losing teams, so take everything you hear with a grain of salt.

Still, this would tend to support the idea that campaigning is too important to be left to candidates and their amateur teams. McCain had a similar problem.

We really need to set up a professional machine to make sure that the lowest level of campaigning always runs smoothly year in and year out and just leave it up to the campaigns to come up with their message and to find volunteers to support the machine.

T-Rav said...

For what it's worth, there's an article here that absolutely slams ORCA, somewhat along the lines of what I was saying earlier. LINK

And also for what it's worth, Joe Trippi (former manager for Howard Deaniac) has a piece today on what the Obama campaign was looking at behind the scenes all this time, and suggests that the problem wasn't GOTV at all but that, yes, Ohio voters really are that stupid. (He wouldn't call it stupid, but I would.) LINK

The upshot of all this is that, as I think I alluded to in yesterday's (only slightly acrimonious) thread, we're kind of spinning our wheels until we establish whether we lost because our turnout efforts choked at the last minute, or because enough voters were actively turned off by our message. Not that that necessarily helps: if it's the latter, I say f*** them. But at least we'll know where we stand.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Thanks for the links. I think we lost both because out turnout effort was poor and because our image. In future, we will lose because of our image.

And yes, Ohio voters are stupid. I have no doubt about that. But stupid people are easy to lead and that is what we need to learn.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I've read the article and I actually don't put much faith in his analysis. If Romney had just lost Ohio, I would agree. But he also lost Colorado, Virginia, and Florida he should have won. Those aren't states where Bain Capital or the auto bailout swayed anything. Those are states where he lost because of the other issues we discussed, particularly Hispanics.

Individualist said...

Tyranmax aqnd Andrew

There may be people that argue about Abortion or would talk of ending the federal government but I think that if we ever have a 2008 moment with House, filibuster proof Senate and a President that does the right thing and balances the budget the detractors would be very few and the euphoria among the rank and file would be such that those that do would be laughed off.

I was not a supporter of Romney until he won the primary. I had real problems with his moderation. Say what you guys want about immigration, abortion etc. it has been my experience that a moderate RINO almost invariably ends up spending money we don't have and worse abandoning party to curry favor with the MSM by compromising with liberals.

The one thing I have heard every conservative and libertarian gripe about and gripe about bitterly is the inability to balance the budget or even reduce the spending and keep this in place. This really is no small feat either. The only possible way to balance the budget would be to end bureacratic agencies. Something everyone says is impoossible to achieve.

I know so many conservatives that hate our politicians because they feel they are never going to do what is required. And they are right about that. They only support the GOP because the DNC is so awful.

This is where the vocal disastisfaction comes from. It is the members of the rank and file that just don't understand why GOP politicians never even seem to fight for reduced spending. They are not stupid they understand not increazsing a budget by the same percentange as last year is still adding to and not cutting the budget. I have heard these complaints all my adult life which dates back to Reagan.

The problem is that it is impposible to acheive. It just is. We are not even going to reduce this ridiculous deficit we have now. One Trillion Plus is the new normal. The country may tank but reducing the spending won't happen.

Many conservatives don't spend the time you guys do analyzing what is going on day to day. They just know that no one they elect ever does anything about spending. They don't understand why this is. So it is real easy for the talk show hosts to complain when they cut the deals that increase the budget a little to stop dems from ripping things apart.

Even McCain Mr. I don't take Earmarks stopped everything to waste money on TARP. Had at the time Levin praised McCain doing this openly he'd had lost his show.

Thus I say it is a Catch 22. You need the party faithful to fully back your candidates while the gradually gain more and more power but they won't do this faithfully until you do something that requires a situation where we are at 2008 levels of the DNC. I don't like it but I don't know what to do about it either.

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