Luck is where PREPARATION meets Opportunity
No, this isn’t going to be a post about the Indianapolis Colts Quarterback… I wanted to share some insights from the last Presidential election.
Mitch Harper shared a blog post by Preston Gralla where he’s commenting on a post about Project ORCA by John Ekdahl on the Ace of Spades blog. As Ekdahl notes:
“Project ORCA is a massive undertaking – the Republican Party’s newest, unprecedented and most technologically advanced plan to win the 2012 presidential election.” Pretty much everything in that sentence is false. The “massive undertaking” is true, however. It would take a lot of planning, training and coordination to be done successfully (oh, we’ll get to that in a second). This wasn’t really the GOP’s effort, it was Team Romney’s. And perhaps “unprecedented” would fit if we’re discussing failure.
Ekdahl goes on to note the dismal failures of this GOTV technological achievement, and they mostly relate to a failed roll-out. As someone like Ekdahl who works in technology development, I’ve seen the same problems he notes… presentations focused on how this is the greatest thing ever that fail to actually show how the promised technological wonder works, communications from team leaders who don’t actually understand what the technology is or does, and complete inattention to basic details associated with rolling out the technology (i.e. not instructing people to register as poll workers, failing to deliver the instructions to use the tool until 14 hours before polls open, etc.).
I wrote before about the importance I place on primary elections in terms of preparing candidates for the big show – this also goes for the tools we plan to help us win elections. When we depend on things to work the first time, right out of the box, without testing them in some form or fashion, training the people who will use them, or making sure the people involved understand how they fit in with the other objectives of the campaign, they are doomed to failure. Ekdahl’s experience may have been unique, though he refers to others who had the same problems.
There have been many blog posts and articles written about how a better GOTV effort could have made the difference in a few key states, less than 500,000 votes would have swung the election a different way. A proper roll-out of this technology tool might have been the key to make the difference, but there are a lot of factors that contributed to Romney’s loss this week. What’s important is to take what lessons we can from the failure. While we may debate what we’ll need to do to broaden our electoral coalition for the next Presidential race, as a party we need to commit to developing the tools our candidate will use for the next election and train everyone on how to use them – that’s the value a party can bring to a candidate and that’s where our leadership must focus their efforts.