Well, we were wrong in most of our predictions, and licking our wounds for a few days post election day. Even Larry Sabato underestimated the Obama wave on Tuesday…sure he predicted an Obama victory, but with only 290 electoral votes.
The Leadership of the RPOF must be shell-shocked. They seemed to rely on a 2010 playbook – increased turnout in the rural areas and most of North Florida. Well, it wasn’t enough to compensate for Obama pulling more votes out of the urban areas and destroying Romney in the Hispanic vote. Even Cuban-American voters only voted 50-47 for Romney according to exit polls! This was likely due to the tone set during the Republican primaries – basically an exercise over who could be more hardcore right wing with regards to illegal immigration. The RPOF also foolishly spent money on some awful mailings that only helped line the pockets of certain consultants.
While we won’t know for a few weeks the actual turnout according to registration, we can look at the results. In Miami Dade alone, Obama’s margin increased by about 70,000 votes, with Romney getting about 29,000 less votes than McCain! Clearly, the GOP has a Hispanic problem. Other areas were a mix. Broward pulled in about 5,200 more votes for Romney than McCain, but Obama also pulled out more votes there. As more and more minority voters move to Broward, this is likely to increase. We’re actually surprised Romney didn’t do worse there. As far as Palm Beach goes, it pulled in about 2,600 more votes for Romney over McCain, and Obama got about 37,000 less votes than 2008. It seems the Republican Jewish Coalition “Obama Oy Vey” campaign may have caused some Jewish voters to simply stay home and not vote.
Orange county ended up about the same numbers from 2008. Hillsborough pulled in about 10,000 more votes for Romney than McCain but also 8,000 more votes for Obama. Highlighting the Hispanic voter GOP situation is Osceola county, where Obama pulled in an additional 7,100 votes than 2008. Pinellas actually had less votes for Romney and less for Obama than 2008 numbers.
The pain didn’t end there….
Speaker Designate Chris Dorworth looks like he will lose to an underfunded opponent. Scott Plakon, who campaigns as a strict conservative, went down to defeat. Peter Nehr (of photo fame), lost in Pinellas. Diaz de la Portilla, from a famous political family in Miami, lost. Rep. Harrison lost upstate.
The State Senate will lose Ellyn Bogdanoff in a Broward and Palm Beach district that was decimated by the Republican legislature in redistricting — though they couldn’t really do anything about it considering the outcome of Amendments 5 and 6. The decision by the RPOF to send out a mailer on behalf of Ellyn Bogdanoff accusing Maria Sachs of voting against funding for the Florida Holocaust Museum was about the most foolish move in politics this cycle. Maria Sachs (the Democrat who won) actually has in-laws who survived the Holocaust.
In the Congressional races, we were right about most of them, and everyone knew David Rivera had problems. Most surprising is the loss by Allen West (pending recount lawsuits) against Patrick Murphy. Adam Hasner went down to defeat in a Broward Palm Beach based district that Allen West left because he could see the writing on the wall after redistricting.
So here we are. It seems the old playbook needs to be tossed. The RPOF should assist rather than try to control it’s party apparatus in the urban areas of the state. From what we’re told, it’s a one-way street….the RPOF makes demands and the local parties have to jump. Staffers are sent into victory offices who have never even lived in the counties, and most of the time treat the local REC leaders like garbage. Most of the local REC leadership is never included in any Romney campaign meetings, and Romney’s local campaign chairs are often antagonistic to the local parties. VOiP phones were often used to call voters in other counties – leading many local REC Chairman to ponder – who’s going to turn out our local voters?
The RPOF leadership is all from the rural or northern parts of the state – when Blaise Ingoglia is the Board member who we believe is from the most Southern county in Florida – Hernando – there’s something wrong there.
Romney’s “Project ORCA” turned out to be complete disaster and probably cost Romney thousands of votes in key states. This wasn’t really the GOP’s effort, it was Team Romney’s. They were supposed to send a packet of information of voters to call on election day. If you ever actually received it, it likely arrived as a 60-odd page PDF the night before the election. Good luck if you’re a senior that isn’t familiar with that sort of thing. The program actually crashed on Election Day, which meant that workers on the ground didn’t even know what doors to knock on.
Obama’s ground game, on the other hand relied on “an extraordinarily sophisticated database packed with names of millions of undecided voters and potential supporters,” says The New York Times. The database allowed Obama’s army of field workers to target new voters, register them, and get them to the polls. On Election Day, it became clear that the Obama campaign had altered “the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white,” says The Times. “The power of this operation stunned Mr. Romney’s aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla.”
In 2004, Republicans tapped the science of microtargeting to redefine campaigns. That is now ancient history.
“When it comes to the use of voter data and analytics, the two sides appear to be as unmatched as they have ever been on a specific electioneering tactic in the modern campaign era,” Sasha Issenberg, a journalist and an expert in the science of campaigning, wrote just days before the election proved him right. “No party ever has ever had such a durable structural advantage over the other on polling, making television ads, or fundraising, for example.”
The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee entered Election Day boasting about the millions of voter contacts — door knocks and phone calls — they had made in all the key states.
Volunteers were making the calls using an automated VOIP-system, allowing them to dial registered voters at a rapid clip and punch in basic data about them on each phone’s keypad, feeding basic information into the campaign’s voter file.
But volunteer callers were met with angry hang-ups and answering machines just as much as actual voters on the other end of the line. It was a voter contact system that favored quantity over quality.
At the same time, the campaign’s door-to-door canvassing effort was heavily reliant on fired-up but untrained volunteers.
Obama organizers, meanwhile, had been deeply embedded in small towns and big cities for years, focusing their persuasion efforts on person-to-person contact.
The more nuanced data they collected, often with handwritten notes attached, were synced nightly with their prized voter database in Chicago.
After the dust had cleared, the GOP field operation, which had derided the Obama operation and gambled on organic Republican enthusiasm to push them over the top, seemed built on a house of cards.
“Their deal was much more real than I expected,” one top Republican with close ties to the Romney campaign said of the Obama field team.
Sources involved in the GOP turnout effort admitted they were badly outmatched in the field by an Obama get-out-the-vote operation that lived up to their immense hype — except, perhaps, in North Carolina, where Romney was able to pull out a win and Republicans swept to power across the state.
Multiple Romney advisers were left agog at the turnout ninjutsu performed by the Obama campaign, both in early voting and on Election Day.
Not only did Obama field marshals get their targeted supporters to the polls, they found new voters and even outperformed their watershed 2008 showings in some decisive counties, a remarkable feat in a race that was supposed to see dampened Democratic turnout.
In Florida’s Hillsborough County, home to Tampa, the Obama campaign outpaced their final 2008 tally by almost 6,000 votes. In Nevada’s vote-rich Clark County, Obama forces scrounged up almost 9,000 more votes than they did four years ago.
Tuesday’s outcome laid bare this truth: The two campaigns placed very different bets on the nature of the 2012 electorate, and the Obama campaign won decisively.
Romney officials had modeled an electorate that looked something like a mix of 2004 and 2008, only this time, Democratic turnout would be depressed, and the most motivated voters would be whites, seniors, Republicans and independents.
Changes need to be made.