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Obama's Tech Team Was Firing On All Cylinders While Romney's Was Still In Beta

from the wow dept

Obviously some of the following may be biased by the hindsight view of who won and who lost -- but it's fascinating to see two very, very different stories emerge about the technology/data teams involved in the two major party presidential campaigns. Right after the election, Time published an account of a massive and extremely sophisticated datacrunching team working to get President Obama re-elected.
The new megafile didn’t just tell the campaign how to find voters and get their attention; it also allowed the number crunchers to run tests predicting which types of people would be persuaded by certain kinds of appeals. Call lists in field offices, for instance, didn’t just list names and numbers; they also ranked names in order of their persuadability, with the campaign’s most important priorities first. About 75% of the determining factors were basics like age, sex, race, neighborhood and voting record. Consumer data about voters helped round out the picture. “We could [predict] people who were going to give online. We could model people who were going to give through mail. We could model volunteers,” said one of the senior advisers about the predictive profiles built by the data. “In the end, modeling became something way bigger for us in ’12 than in ’08 because it made our time more efficient.”

Early on, for example, the campaign discovered that people who had unsubscribed from the 2008 campaign e-mail lists were top targets, among the easiest to pull back into the fold with some personal attention. The strategists fashioned tests for specific demographic groups, trying out message scripts that they could then apply. They tested how much better a call from a local volunteer would do than a call from a volunteer from a non–swing state like California. As Messina had promised, assumptions were rarely left in place without numbers to back them up.
Compare that, then, to the data driven efforts on the Romney side. First, the campaign ignored all the public polls that turned out to be fairly accurate and plugged in a bunch of their own assumptions when looking at key variables, all of which made them believe they had a stronger position than it turned out they had. But, much more interesting are the stories coming out about ORCA, the Romney campaign's secret computerized weapon in the "get out the vote" effort. It's like the exact opposite of the description of the Obama campaign's data tool.

Romney campaign volunteer John Ekdahl's description of how poorly planned out ORCA was is a must-read. It really sounds like the team there didn't do much testing, and failed to consider how the system would work under load. From the explanations, it also sounds like they didn't do much usability testing, or even think through some basic use cases. It sounds as though either the Romney team didn't think ORCA was ready or they didn't want to "reveal" it until the last minute to avoid tipping their hand to Obama's campaign. The night before the election, they sent volunteers who were supposed to be poll watchers a huge PDF with instructions -- expecting them to print it out, which isn't so easy for everyone these days. They also forgot to tell them they needed to get and bring their "poll watcher certificate" to polling places. And they didn't release the actual app until 6am on election day, giving volunteers no time at all to learn how it worked (or to report bugs).
Now a note about the technology itself. For starters, this was billed as an "app" when it was actually a mobile-optimized website (or "web app"). For days I saw people on Twitter saying they couldn't find the app on the Android Market or iTunes and couldn't download it. Well, that's because it didn't exist. It was a website. This created a ton of confusion. Not to mention that they didn't even "turn it on" until 6AM in the morning, so people couldn't properly familiarize themselves with how it worked on their personal phone beforehand.

Next, and this part I find mind-boggingly absurd, the web address was located at "https://www.whateveritwas.com/orca". Notice the "s" after http. This denotes it's a secure connection, something that's used for e-commerce and web-based email. So far, so good. The problem is that they didn't auto-forward the regular "http" to "https" and as a result, many people got a blank page and thought the system was down. Setting up forwarding is the simplest thing in the world and only takes seconds, but they failed to do it. This is compounded by the fact that mobile browsers default to "http" when you just start with "www" (as 95% of the world does).

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.
A different report points to similarly massive problems with other aspects of ORCA, including handing out the wrong PINs, making the app useless in Colorado (and possibly elsewhere):
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.
Once again, I'm sure that the Obama system wasn't nearly as perfect and all-knowing as the Time article describes. Nor was the Romney system a total disaster as described in those links -- but it is fascinating to see these stories emerge following the election. Given the Obama win, along with these stories about that datacrunching effort and the worldwide reverence towards Nate Silver, you can bet that everyone gunning for the 2016 nomination is going to spend some time trying to build up a killer technical/data team.


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    Arsik Vek (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 8:43am

    Better be careful calling your data pool a "megafile". The *AAs might smell blood.

     

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    blaktron (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:00am

    The fact that this wasn't up and operational during the primaries should have been a giant warning sign for the high-level Romney strategists.

    I'm also not sure why a regular BI system couldnt easily handle this problem.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    At leats it's not up on the Me.ga site.

     

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    sehlat (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:16am

    Data Crunching Wasn't the Only Factor

    the campaign ignored all the public polls that turned out to be fairly accurate and plugged in a bunch of their own assumptions when looking at key variables

    Unless the campaign pays attention to the facts, and not their own hopes/fears/assumptions, it won't matter how much data they have or how well they crunch it, they'll still lose.

    Put 20 tons of hopes/fears/assumptions in the left hand pan of the scale, put one ounce of fact in the right. The left hand pan will soar as the right hand pan hits the table with a loud thud.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:24am

    Re: Data Crunching Wasn't the Only Factor

    Yep. Garbage in, garbage out.

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Data Crunching Wasn't the Only Factor

    Intentionally.

    Romney's people didn't actually believe their spin, they just hoped enough other people would to turn the tide. The media preferred their version because a close race draws more interest.

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:37am

    Obama's campaign organization was data driven. They collected data, used every bit of data available to them and most important they trusted the data. They could trust it because they had tested it.

    The Romney campaign got sucked into the pro same syndrome that has struck the entire conservative movement. Doctrine is king. All data is viewed through the lens of beliefs and dogma. Karl Rove is now the poster child of this policy. After every major network (including Fox) had called Ohio for Obama Rove was still insisting that Romney had won it. Rove was so insistent that Fox even sent a reporter to grill one of Fox's own data analysts on why they had called Ohio. It was kind of amusing to watch this poor, wide-eyed data analyst who didn't expect to be on live TV defending his findings against Fox orthodoxy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:47am

    When the Republican party doesn't seem to believe in silly things such as "science, math and technology", it's no surprise this was the outcome. Or maybe God has just abandoned them.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

    I got Obama pitches and responded to them

    I got many Obama emails and I was intrigued by the ones that got me to donate. It was fascinating to know marketing, to be on the receiving end of requests, and pay attention to the ones most effective for me.

    In other words, I was conscious of the process and liked the fact that I got a variety of different emails and some were so effective that I would donate on the spot. Of course, there were other factors. The election looked close and I was seeing some of the outrageous claims being made on the other side, which got me mobilized. I felt it was important to be involved this time.

    But yes, the Obama campaign was so good at knowing what might interest me. I've never seen another email campaign by anyone, any company work so well. In fact, one reason I don't trust Facebook is that it keeps sending me pitches that appear to be personalized, but are totally wrong for me. So whatever info they have on me is either wrong, or the company is misinterpreting it. If a company is collecting data on me and it is giving me an inaccurate picture of me, I am very worried.

     

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    Brent (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 1:00pm

    I'm not into politics at all so plz forgive my ignorance but why are 'poll watchers' important?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 1:22pm

    Re:

    I'm not into politics at all so plz forgive my ignorance but why are 'poll watchers' important?

    If I understand the term correctly, these are people who make sure that if the lines get long, they encourage people to stay in line to vote. They make sure those in line have the proper identification so they can vote. They also make sure people at the polls aren't given misinformation and turned away when they shouldn't be turned away.

    I don't go to the polls on election day (I vote early), so I haven't seen poll watchers in action, but all of the above is what I am aware people were doing on election day to make sure everyone who wanted to vote got to vote.

     

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    Brian M (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    It works like this:

    1) Collect the names of the people you expect (or hope you can convince) to vote for your candidate ahead of time.
    2) Categorize them as how much help they need to vote; i.e. pushing via calls, etc.
    3) Guess when they should (by time) vote.
    4) Track who votes at each poll on voting day.
    5) If a voter does not show up when expected, call them. If they need help getting there send someone to pick them up, etc.

    Obama's team has been as master of this like no other.

     

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    Danny (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 1:44pm

    Isnt it ironic, dontcha think?

    I find it ironic that one of Romney's principal selling points was that he was a world class business manager, while Obama had been only a /sneer/ community organizer.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, there was a lot of follow up right up to the end when the polls closed. And where I was (a university town) a lot of attention was focused on college students, both because they were more likely to vote for Obama, but also because they often needed more help to vote -- either as first time voters who may not have understood what was required from them or because they were registered in a different place than where they currently lived.

    The video of Obama thanking the campaign workers in Chicago is so relevant given the amount of work those workers (both there and across the country) gave to the campaign. In Boulder, at the office where I was, the two campaign office managers grabbed lists and hit some college areas about one hour before the polls closed. And these were areas where walkers had already knocked on doors at least once on Monday and at least twice on Tuesday. Every vote was considered worth making an extra effort for.

     

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    ahow628 (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Data Crunching Wasn't the Only Factor

    Wait! When did the Republicans start believing in science? Did I miss something?

    No shocking news here.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    They used the term Mega, LOL!

     

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    Bengie, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Isnt it ironic, dontcha think?

    I was thinking this also. Someone who spent about 1bil on a campaign and claims to be a business man, couldn't even coordinate the very basics.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 2:22pm

    Re:

    Here's info on poll watchers from Denver and from Chicago.

    Poll Watchers: Poll Watcher Appointments

    There are three categories of observers who are permitted in polling places:

    “Official Observers” -- credentialed by Colorado Secretary of State or by federal government.
    “Media Observers” -- credentialed members of news media.
    “Poll Watchers” -- credentialed by county Clerk and Recorder. This page tells you how to get your poll watchers credentialed.

    -----------

    Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago: A poll watcher is a representative of a candidate, political party, civic organization or proposition who is legally in the polling place to observe the conduct of the election. All poll watchers must be registered voters in Illinois.

     

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    Anonymous, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 2:27pm

    Who won: The government.
    Who lost: The people.
    What else is new?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 2:39pm

    Re:

    Who won: The government.
    Who lost: The people.


    Since I think some commons and co-operative forms of organization are necessary to protect and deliver certain property, I believe we'll always have a type of "government." I don't think we'll have a world where everyone operates unto himself.

    So I have never been against "government." For me it's an on-going discussion of what kinds of government. Even churches and homeowners associations are forms of government. Any group that attempts to create some rules and owns collective property operates as a "government."

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 3:02pm

    Re:

    I'm not into politics at all so plz forgive my ignorance but why are 'poll watchers' important?


    Beyond the technical explanations that others gave, campaign pollwatchers are a big part of the "get out the vote" effort. They know who's registered in what polling place, and they basically "eavesdrop" on who is signing in to vote. This way they can keep tabs on who HAS NOT voted, and then target them with phone calls, visits later in the day if they think those people are important to voting for their candidate.

    That's what ORCA was all about. It was supposed to track who had voted, so they would have a huge database of who they had to help/encourage to go out and vote. Without that data, they didn't have that effort targeted, and likely got out a lot less of the vote.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, once you voted, you didn't get more "will you vote" calls or door knockers, although if you were considered a likely supporter, you still got "will you donate" emails and "will you volunteer" emails and calls. They did keep track of who said they wouldn't volunteer, who said maybe, and who said yes.

    Another thing they did was to have big events where to get a ticket you either needed to be currently volunteering or willing to volunteer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 3:36pm

    you can bet that everyone gunning for the 2016 nomination is going to spend some time trying to build up a killer technical/data team.

    Well it's about time. Finally, politics will actually lead to genuine job creation.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 4:36pm

    It wasn't just data, but also manpower

    The data collection was very useful in terms of identifying potential supporters. However, to actually get out the vote took lots of volunteers calling and knocking on doors. And when the volunteers sometimes asked why they were knocking on the same doors several times a day, they were told the best way to get people to the polls was to interact with them personally. (Most of the time door knockers found no one home, so they repeatedly went back to the same places in hopes of actually speaking to the residents.) So in that regard it was just like old-time canvassing -- one person to one person.

    What the data was able to do was to identify the best people to focus on and the most effective pitches, but the campaign still depended on a lot of personal contact. If you don't have a grassroots army of people to work the campaign, you are at a disadvantage.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 5:04pm

    Technology had nothing to do with it

    Obama won because democrats offer something for nothing. Republicans expect you to earn you way. If this country doesn't stand up and get to work we will soon be a third world country,

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Republicans expect you to earn you way. If this country doesn't stand up and get to work we will soon be a third world country,

    Do you really want to get into a discussion about the tax breaks for the wealthy -- both individuals and corporations?

    If we are talking about people who work hard, let's hear it for those who do manufacturing and day labor, and who take care of the elderly and the disabled. Do you really think those on Wall Street who push around lots of numbers without actually creating much of real value are working hard?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    This is a great piece. If you keep insisting the world is a certain way and won't look at evidence that suggests something else, you are going to keep repeating the same mistakes.

    Noahpinion: Asian-Americans destroy the "maker/taker" narrative: "As you can see, the 'maker/taker' narrative has a strong ethnic angle; the 'takers' are supposed to be mostly minorities and single women. White men and their wives produce things; blacks, Hispanics, and sluts single women live on the dole. Naturally, this ethnic angle plays well with the conservative 'base', i.e. Southern and exurban working-class whites for whom politics is ethnic and tribal.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Nowhere do I refer to minorities, but typical liberal to cry racism where there is none. This blog is about economic So tell me how long a country can last where half the population receives public assistance?

    You do realize the middle class is walking a tightrope without a net? A guy I know, through a poor choice of his own right before the economic collapse lost everything but a $4000 car. He was $50000 in debt and was refused help until he got rid of the car. This guy has a masters degree and spent 20 years working professionally and got nothing out of the tax dollars he paid. But walk in having never earned a thing and you will get signed up for half a dozen programs.

    this is not sustainable.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    I actually believe everyone should live frugally and within their means. And I would be perfectly fine in asking everyone who gets government money to work for it.

    However, Republicans wouldn't go through with these plans either. If the Republicans slashed government jobs, government contracts, and government transfer payments, the economy would fast slip back into recession.

    Because I am all about sustainability, I don't believe we can have an endless growth economic model. I think the shareable movement, where people try to get by on less is better for the planet.

    I saw what happened during the Bush administration (a combination of government spending and tax cuts resulting in expanding debt) and the Republicans never convinced me they wouldn't do the same thing again if in office. I didn't seen a lot of economic responsibility then and haven't been convinced they actually believe in it.

    I don't have a lot of confidence that any President can work miracles, so given that, I'll at least vote for the party that seems the least nasty.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 6:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    This is what i cant understand about this election. You vote for the party that is less nasty and you vote for the man who ran up as much debt in 4 years as Bush did in 8? The Dems had a super majority for two years and didn't even mention taxes. They waited to make it an election year issue. They never produced a budget after promising to cut the deficit in half. They did nothing but sound money.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 6:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Don't get me wrong, I don't believe the republicans are the saviors either, just the lesser of two evils.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 6:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    I read a lot of economic news every day. My outlook is most closely aligned with Occupy Wall Street and the P2P Foundation. There aren't many politicians or economics who view the world the way I do.

    However, I was really turned off by the Fox viewpoint of the world, so there was no way I was going to vote Republicans given the party's move to the right.

    I recommend you read that article I posted if you haven't. Don't just go by the excerpt I quoted. In the full article the author quotes Republicans who do make it a racial issue.

    And actually, it works well for the Democrats if Republicans continue to insist Democrats won because voters want something for nothing. As many people are pointing out, the Republicans seem genuinely surprised that Romney lost. The move to the right didn't serve them well this year. This is an increasing diverse country and the politics need to reflect that. The social issues many Republicans were mentioning in their campaigns don't reflect where this country is headed. Sure, campaign on fiscal conservativism, but drop the fight against gays, abortion and birth control, immigration, non-Christians, and so on.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Sorry, can't drop the abortion issue. Abortion is murder. Dems claim to be for the little guy but leave out the the littlest guy. If a fetus is not a life, why does a man go to jail for murder if he causes a women to lose a baby? After all, it isn't a life, right?

    Second, diversity isn't a problem, the business world is very diverse. It is a problem when half the county is on the public dole.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    No one is advocating for abortion, but women want to be able to make that decision themselves.

    As for protecting the fetus, that's cool. But let's follow that all the way and make sure pregnant women aren't exposed to environmental pollutants which might hurt unborn children. Let's hold businesses accountable if they spew stuff in the air or water.

    I also feel that if one is truly pro-life, one should oppose capital punishment and war. And I also believe that society must provide a basic level of health care, shelter, and education for all children. If we want all children to be born, let's make sure we set aside enough resources to take care of them, even when their parents can't or won't.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    I am against capital punishment and war but you didn't address the issue. Why do women get to choose who lives or dies and men go to jail for it? It is not a women's health issue it is a child's health issue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    You also didn't address the dems spending problem.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 7:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Not everyone agrees that a fetus too young to have a viable life on its own gets full personhood protection.

    There are legal complications if we grant those. As I mentioned, if the mother exposes a fetus to something that produces or even might produce a birth defect, should she be jailed? If a company produces a product that results in birth defects or abortions, what should the law do about that? There are many products which can be unsafe for a fetus but are safe after birth. Should we test products for fetus safety? We do to some extent, but our standards could be higher.

    I'm after legal and ethical consistency, so I could live with full legal protection of the unborn, but along with a full pro-life policy, I would expect the country to avoid any activity that hurts unborn or born children. I want the pro-life movement to be strongly anti-war and anti-capital punishment as well.

    I don't see enough concern for children after they are born, so I view the abortion issue with some skepticism. Let's have a significantly expanded social welfare network for children. That doesn't have to include their parents, but let's make sure all children are taken care of in terms of the basics.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Also, if fetuses have full personhood, then what should the state do in the case of miscarriages? Is a woman guilty of criminal neglect if she miscarries? Will doctors and hospitals need to investigate each case? Will a woman need to report a miscarriage that happens at home?

    It's a legal grey area right now. If we do give fetuses full personhood, it will be another way government gets involved in people's lives. Maybe we want that and maybe we don't.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Obama won because democrats offer something for nothing.


    The flipside of that is that Romney lost because Republicans offer nothing for something.

    ie. if you want your job shipped to China and the elimination of the middle class, Romney was your guy.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    You vote for the party that is less nasty and you vote for the man who ran up as much debt in 4 years as Bush did in 8?


    So not only do you not understand the difference between debt and deficit, but you claim that putting Afghanistan and Iraq wars on the budget (rather than hiding their costs) is a bad thing?

    Perhaps if you actually understood the issues, you would understand why we voted for Obama.

    You've changed your narrative three times now - and brought up "RACISM!" to try to deflect. Please stop, you're not fooling anybody.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    You also didn't address the dems spending problem.

    You don't want to see all the info I could show you to suggest a different take on that. Let's just say we support different parties and leave it at that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 11:43pm

    Re:

    I've been doing a bit more reading about how the poll watchers and the reporting software worked. Evidently, a poll watcher is able to sit close enough to whoever is checking in voters at the polls to hear the name of the voter. Then the poll watcher goes down his list of supporters who haven't yet voted and checks that person off. The info is relayed to the campaign office and anyone who still hasn't voted is contacted about getting to the polls.

    I was in one of those offices and I was handing out canvassing sheets to walkers. On the day of the election, the sheets I had were not updated during the day. They were just handed out multiple times to volunteers going door to door. There were other people doing phone calling and perhaps they got frequently updated lists.

    According to what I have read the Romney and the Obama poll watchers had mobile apps allowing them to report voters as they passed through the poll check in. Romney's system evidently didn't work properly.

    I never had an overview of the Obama system and never asked. So most of what I have learned about poll watchers has come from what I have found online, not what I was able to witness on election day.

    But I did see how hard paid staffers and volunteers worked. There was a lot of effort involved. I was there multiple days and hours before election day and on election day. I saw a lot of blocks walked. A lot of phone calls made. A lot data entered. A lot of events organized.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 10th, 2012 @ 10:16am

    Here's more detail about the system

    This article covers the data gathering software in more depth, but what none of these articles explains is how the poll watchers know who voted. Based on what I have found elsewhere, it appears that whoever serves as a poll watcher is close enough to hear the name of the person picking up the ballot and that's how the poll watcher enters the voter's name into the system to update.

    I do know that once a person has voted and that info has been entered into the state system, that info is available publicly. But that doesn't happen instantaneously on election day.

    The quote from the article below points out that even if you are monitoring who is voting on Election Day, there is a limit to what you can do as a result. So a lot of the work is done beforehand.

    Why Romney's Orca killer app beached on Election Day | Politics and Law - CNET News: "There is only so much resource you can move around at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon on Election Day," Issenberg said. "On short notice, you can send robocalls, reorder a call list and employ paid phone banks, but you are not radically changing the shape of the electorate. They acted like they had invented the wheel, but really all it would have been was a slightly better tread on the tire."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 10th, 2012 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Here's another article that nails it.

    Romney Is President - NYTimes.com: "Romney and Tea Party loonies dismissed half the country as chattel and moochers who did not belong in their 'traditional' America. But the more they insulted the president with birther cracks, the more they tried to force chastity belts on women, and the more they made Hispanics, blacks and gays feel like the help, the more these groups burned to prove that, knitted together, they could give the dead-enders of white male domination the boot."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2012 @ 11:05pm

    Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Howdy, troll! How you trollin' today, troll?

    I'm afraid that for Republicans, it's very much a "do as I say, not as I do" thing when it comes to something for nothing, like free money from the government.

    Months ago during the Republican primaries, I remember reading a column or website that detailed how every single one of the 9 people running in the Republican primaries was getting some sort of a rich-person hand-out from the government. Off the top of my head, Bachman, for instance, was getting $80,000 a year for NOT planting a specific crop on a piece of land she owned, plus her husband was getting gum'mint money for his "I can fix that for you" anti-gay "clinic". They were all very savvy about how to apply to the government, and who to apply to, to get free government money.

    This doesn't even touch on how most of these loudmouth conservatives are members of the lucky sperm club who got their start in business by touching mumsy or daddy for cash, or getting an inheritance from grandpapa, or asking one of their daddy's friends for a job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2012 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Evil is still evil.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2012 @ 3:23pm

    Is there anyone here who doesn't understand the difference between a deliberate act (abortion) and something that's not (miscarriage)?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Nov 11th, 2012 @ 3:48pm

    During the campaign the republicans hit Obama and the democrats hard on Obamacare. But who was their presidential candidate? A guy who, as governor of a state nicknamed "Taxachusettes", signed an Obamacare-style bill into law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 11th, 2012 @ 4:07pm

    Re:

    Is there anyone here who doesn't understand the difference between a deliberate act (abortion) and something that's not (miscarriage)?

    If abortion were not available through clinics, some women would still be finding ways to abort. In fact, that was a significant reason it was made legal -- to avoid the dangers of back alley abortions.

    So the difference between a woman who goes to a clinic and a woman who doesn't have a clinic to go to but finds a way to "miscarry" may be the same result without the safety of medical follow up.

    I'm old enough to remember when there were no legal abortion clinics. In my college dorm, when an unmarried college student thought she was pregnant, she'd be told from other classmates, "I know a doctor. I'll give you his name." That's why I don't want abortion made illegal. I don't want to go back to those days.

    But if society is truly concerned about the unborn, let's make sure we offer great options to women who do get pregnant and especially to those children who are born to them. I can get behind making abortions illegal again if as a country we create a model society for children. Let's make it a wonderful world for all children. Let's have a children's bill of rights so that every child born in this country has adequate food, health care, and access to education.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Nov 11th, 2012 @ 6:13pm

    I say we start by throwing off the shackles we call government. But since I'm an anarchist and you're not, we don't agree on that either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 11th, 2012 @ 11:29pm

    Re:

    Is there anyone here who doesn't understand the difference between a deliberate act (abortion) and something that's not (miscarriage)?

    I say we start by throwing off the shackles we call government. But since I'm an anarchist and you're not, we don't agree on that either.

    Are you an anti-abortion anarchist? Kind of an interesting, but potentially dangerous combination. Are women going to be targets of your anarchy?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 3:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Data Crunching Wasn't the Only Factor

    I dunno, looking at Karl Rove's meltdown, all the other Republican sources, and the slagging of Nate Silver, there did seem to be a huge lack of reality checking going on in the Republican camp.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
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    Niall (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 3:37am

    Re:

    I must admit, I was impressed (for once) by Fox, that they could not only grill their own, but stand up for their own people/conclusions. Sounds like they don't totally buy into the BS they often spout...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 3:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technology had nothing to do with it

    Just go start your own Teapublican party already then, and let the Republicans go back to their honourable roots.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 3:45am

    Re:

    Look at any country where abortion is or was illegal. It still happened, just much more dangerously for the mother (and any supporting doctor). This is why most countries have made it legal, and just heavily control how late it can happen, and how.

    It also doesn't help when your side conflates genuine birth control and abortion, or conception and implantation and viability.

    Remember: Every sperm is sacred!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    icon
    Tex Arcana (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Data Crunching Wasn't the Only Factor

    "Don'cha know, sonny? Those kids know how to figure things out on that new-fangled Inter thingy! It'll be OoooKay!

    "Oh, those pesky polls! They're all biased to those darn pinko-commie-liberals! Use THESE polls, they're much better because they make us think all of AmurrriKKKa is with us!

    "Someone get me my Metamucil! I'm feeling a bit plugged up with my own bullshit!"

    -Mitt Rmoney

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 12th, 2012 @ 4:18pm

    Here's an even more detailed look

    An important point to keep in mind is that this may have been a much larger issue than an election day tech failure. It may have been a reflection of a world view that wants facts to fit the narrative rather than the narrative fitting the facts. If, for example, you find global warming inconvenient, you throw out any science that suggests it is happening.

    Inside Romney's Election Day Collapse - Business Insider

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 16th, 2012 @ 2:14pm

    Yet another article

    I'm posting this one because it reflects what I did at one of those neighborhood offices. I was a volunteer who entered data into the database each night. The results of those walk and phone campaigns were entered. Most of the time, no one was home. But the people called multiple times and knocked on doors multiple times until they did reach someone.

    So the data was important in keeping track of what was being done and who to contact, but the human interaction was essential to the process.

    Jim Messina offers his tips on how Barack Obama’s campaign team beat Mitt Romney. - Slate Magazine

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 17th, 2012 @ 7:26pm

    And yet another article

    I'm enjoying these because I was on the receiving end of all of this. I got the email pitches which led me to both donate and volunteer. And I did data entry at one of the field offices so I was part of the process of taking data generated by callers and walkers and putting it into the database.

    It's cool to now know I was a small part of this enormous undertaking.

    When the Nerds Go Marching In - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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