Did Romney campaign’s Project Orca sink GOP turnout? Users claim an ‘epic fiasco’

Among all of the finger-pointing going on in the wake of Mitt Romney’s Election Day loss, one object of blame isn’t even human. Project Orca, the Romney campaign’s proprietary get-out-the-vote software, is getting a lot of attention for failing the campaign when it was needed most.

PBS was given a quick overview of Project Orca earlier this week. The software was to help volunteers keep track of who had voted and identify those who hadn’t for follow-up.

RealClearPolitics’ Erin McPike broke the news of Orca’s floundering on election night, much to the delight of Obama campaign staffers.

John Ekdahl, a web designer and developer who had volunteered to work with Project Orca, gives his comprehensive analysis of Project Orca’s shortcomings today at Ace of Spades HQ, identifying a combination of technical and training issues, as well as flat-out communication failures. His conclusion:

So, the end result was that 30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated when they could have been doing anything else to help. Like driving people to the polls, phone-banking, walking door-to-door, etc. We lost by fairly small margins in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado. If this had worked could it have closed the gap? I sure hope not for my sanity’s sake.

Others on Twitter concur with Ekdahl’s summary.

Ouch. For now, even more volunteers are tweeting their own stories of confusion and helplessness. Project Orca certainly can’t be held solely responsible for Tuesday night’s results, but the stories from volunteers show that much more has to be done to win future elections than field a candidate and hope for the best.

  • RichmondG30

    30,000 volunteers each manage to initiate 100 election day calls to voters. After getting called, 25% of them show up. That’s 750,000 additional swing state votes. Instead we got ~0.

  • Leroy Whitby

    Very sad. Romney proved to be incompetent. Leader picks the people under him. They test the system, make sure it’s resilient, make sure it’s secure. China wanted Obama, so who knows who hacked the system or if it was just a terrible job by the contractor. I believe it is important to find out the who and the how and the whether regarding hacking.

    True the vote. Fight against fraud.

    • RichmondG30

      From what I have been reading it was not “hacked”. It actually “crashed”. (Failure versus external tampering.) I know next to nothing about software, but I do know that bugs appear during periods of stress and election day is not the optimal time to find out the limits of the software.

  • Peyton

    So we got GOTV issues, we’ll just have to fix them.

  • Steve_J

    Romney’s get out the vote managed to get 3,000,000 fewer voters out than McCain got in 2008.
    Edit: Nothing replaces “boots on the ground”.

  • http://twitter.com/Justhugh2u Hugh Thomas Smalley

    what needs to found out is why 3million plus repubus didn’t show up. caller on rushs’ show today says he didn’t because of a modrate romney that they would not vote for dem lite

    • kate_middleton

      I know some people will say that – but I just don’t buy it.
      How can any conservative prefer Obama to Romney? Because, if you were a conservative, and you decided not to vote – that’s exactly like casting a vote for Obama. It’s unfathomable to me.

      • Huladeb

        Some people aren’t smart even to reason that out, sorry to say. And this “not compromising your principles” thing is disastrous when a person throws away reality for making a show of defiance. That defiance cost this country dearly.

        • kate_middleton

          Totally agree! If you really care about the cause, you have to do ANYTHING to advance it. There’s no doubt in my mind that Romney would have been a million times better than Obama for this country.
          Maybe he’s not as conservative as some people wanted…but to say “Well, he’s not 100% where I want to be, so I’ll just stick with being 0% of where I want to be” – makes no sense.

          • orringtonmom (D)

            i’m related to people who “voted their conscience”. and they are so damn proud of it. they think that the misery of another 4 years of obama is going to finally wake people up. spiteful much? of course, they will be finishing college under obama… seriously, one is studying medieval european history. i love them but… *facepalm*

          • Finrod Felagund

            Sorry to have to say this, but you’re related to a bunch of idiots.

          • orringtonmom (D)

            they are a) young b) still getting degrees c) spawned by one of the most arrogant people i know…

            annoying little pricks, yeah. i wouldn’t say “idiots” because they aren’t liberals.

          • kate_middleton

            Seriously! It just makes no sense.
            Any conservative who decided not to vote for Romney because he wasn’t as conservative as they’d like – they might as well have voted for Obama. No one is ever going to agree with someone on 100% of things – you have to choose the person who’s closest to your beliefs/vision. And Lord knows Romney is a heck of a lot closer than Obama.

          • http://twitter.com/redsoxunixgeek Smitty 

            I had planned to vote GOP when Huntsman was running. When Romney became the front runner, i switched to vote for Obama, not because I agree with all of his policies, but the Obama Admin has seen growth in the economy and some foreign policy improvements that were destroyed under bush (Whom I voted for twice)

            Sorry, Romney used Utah as his personal ATM. Used his religion and name recognition and University (BYU) affiliation to gouge the people of this state. That just ruined him, he also touted the olympics, as if he did it all on his own, never mentionming those of us who volunteered (e.g. Not Paid) to make the 2002 games the most successful (winter) games in history.

            Santorum, Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, and Cain were too crazy to get elected. It was almost like the GOP didn’t want to win.

          • Jonathan B

            The Obama administration has not seen growth in the economy. Record growth in food stamps, welfare, and the national debt, but not the economy. Not sure where you got that info from, but they were either incorrect or lying to you. I don’t know what foreign policy you think he improved, either.

          • NT

            Hi there. The stock market more than doubled under Obama. No one is lying to us. Reality always seems to come as a surprise to you people. Also look at a realistic chart of the jobs created after 2009. You guys always subtract from Obama’s 5 million plus job creation the jobs lost immediately after he took office following the economic crash. Doesn’t work that way, sorry! Can’t seem to help you people see reality. We are use to it by now!

    • Kid Liberty

      I don’t remember everything from all the way back to 2008, but I don’t recall a pro- ron paul base that was adamantly opposed to John McCain. I think that the Ron Paul people stayed home because they were sad that Ron Paul lost again, and decided to take it out on Mitt Romney. They tried to hijack the convention, and use procedural tricks to make him the nominee without winning the primaries, and when they didn’t succeed, they took their ball and went home. I seem to remember close to 3 million people who voted for Ron Paul in the primaries, and it’s striking to me that 3 million is the rough number of people who stayed home on election night. I can’t imagine the tea party (which was started in response to Obama’s policies) not turning out and voting against Obama. I can’t imagine evangelicals not voting when their religious freedoms are being trashed by Obama. We won independents hand over fist, this all comes back to the Paulbots.

  • rinodino

    I’m really starting to feel sorry for you guys twitchy constantly mocked of empty seats and no real support for Obama with pictures to prove it yet his gotv was running circles around mittens. How is that?

    • Burt Zerker

      Get your layoff notice yet? Please let us all know when you do.

    • redheadgrl

      That wasn’t a picture of a rally. Good try though.

    • http://twitter.com/thetugboatphil TugboatPhil

      Feel sorry for the thousands being laid off work and the thousands yet to come. Oh and congratulations on your “win.”

    • sailordude

      Dude you have an empty suit for an avatar and support Obama? How ironic.

      • TexSizzle

        Not ironic – appropriate. The empty suit beside this message is apparently a default avatar, as I have not assigned an avatar of my own.

  • CalCon10

    Funny…when the Tea Party ran things for ourselves locally, we got good turnout in 2010…and we WON.

    But Mitt didn’t need no stinkin’ Tea Party. (Might offend moderate voters, or Dem crossover voters…or something.) His loss. And the country’s.

    • News Reporter

      Software calling Republicans to verify they voted? Uhhh, Republicans do NOT answer the phone to telemarketers and don’t answer pollsters. Real smart. Like they noted, these volunteers should have been driving people to the polls.

      Dole, McCain, Romney. Three recent dud candidates. Wimps. RINOs. You are right. Tea Party ran things with efficiency and it was a GROUND GAME. We gathered together in small groups and independently influenced our families, friends, neighbors and strangers. .2010 was a great year. Romney never liked the Tea Party and he expressed that sentiment. I dropped my pure dislike of Romney to get Obama out of office. I see at least 3 million, who voted in 2008 for McCain, refused to accept this anti-Tea Party RINO as even worth traveling one mile to vote at the polls. Whatever was playing at home was much more pleasurable. Zombieland?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IQIGXRVWW5XRETNV25R4FATCOM ssenecal5000

        Yeah , it must have been the tech guys fault and not the GOP establishment pick Romney
        ROMNEY was the problem He had Romneycare, which killed any mention of Obamacare …..ya know that thing most people didnt want.
        ROMNEY didnt get people out to vote just like many people warned would happen.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.waligora.56 Robert Waligora

      exactly right on…no tea party rallies anywhere this year unlike 2010, with sarah palin on the sidelines as well…the tea party rallies rallied the base in 2010, this year SILENCE

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.waligora.56 Robert Waligora

      exactly right on…no tea party rallies anywhere this year unlike 2010, with sarah palin on the sidelines as well…the tea party rallies rallied the base in 2010, this year SILENCE

    • http://twitter.com/hamybear Michael Hampton

      No one needs the tea party. They will not be a part of the next election.

  • Steve_J

    A moderate is just somebody afraid to admit to being a liberal.

  • http://granitegrok.com/author/mike Mike Rogers

    Might have hit the target better with Yeti Games “Orca Slap”!
    Must be on Linux, because it uses penguins.

  • $10348

    I think it is great they tried something new. This could be refined/perfected and used in subsequent elections. The problem is they should have been ready with manual strike sheets in the event of a system failure. They relied on the new app too much.

    The root cause of course is the people who stayed home and let the worst president in history get another term. There is NO excuse for them at all. Everyone knew there was an election and who was on the ballot. It shouldn’t have taken some extraordinary effort for them to get off their butt and go to the polls.

    • TexSizzle

      If they want to try something new, they should test it in the primaries, not the general election. While I was employed at a software company, we did the beta testing in-house before sending the software out. An occasional bug still escaped, but there’s nothing worse than sending out buggy software and having large numbers of users unable to use a product they’re relying on.

  • tomtom1983

    The election was stolen by these liberals and now only a civil war can fix this nation. Libs were voting based on race and hate. Nothing more.

    War is coming and it could have been avoided. But liberals will be what destroys this nation.

    • http://twitter.com/MaryUK Mary

      I think it will take something drastic, you (and we) have a dumbed down electorate that are fooled by plastic Hollywood libs and an “American Idol”esqe approach to politics, it is terrifying!! IMO the DEMs are now the memememememe party and not, as i believe in, the collective best for communities and families, they are so hell bent on NOT offending and pandering to EVERY cause, i cant see throughout the past years the more liberal society has become that quality of life has actually improved!

    • Joseph Bentz

      Obama appears tired after a long exhausting campaign; he should sleep for an eternity. Succession sounds like a pretty good idea right now. It could possibly stop the complete destruction of the USA.

  • thomas moore

    You know, if the margins are that tight it’s NOT a software issue. It’s NOT a get out the vote issue. It’s a “we have not convinced people our ideas are valid” issue. Didn’t Margaret Thatcher say something like, “First you have to win the argument, THEN you win the election.” With an economy this bad to have margins this tight points to the real failure: We talk a lot to each other and don’t convince undecideds that our cause is a good one.

    • GTFOBigGovt

      Not true. Obama did exactly the same thing but did it right. They were driving bus loads of people to vote for weeks based on data and knowing who voted on the last day and who didn’t. They even went to your house and said they knew you didn’t vote yet and wouldn’t you be embarrassed since all your neighbors did blah blah blah.

      That’s where they got the name ORCA as a play on words versus Obama’s software. It was a get out the vote problem and GOP voter laziness. AND lots of people left when the lines were long.

  • Michelle Blackwell

    Man, so much blame to pass around. What happened to taking personal responsibility for your failures?

    Let me guess, when the failure is your fault plenty of blame to throw around, but when the failure is someone else’s it is totally and completely their fault. Brilliant strategy.

  • Morgan Mundane

    They were saying that the unions under Trumpka put 400,000 troups on the ground in the key counties that Romney lost, and costs him the election.
    In Minnesota, Romney won 95% of the counties but lost the 4 big ones, the ones with huge population around Minneapolis and St Paul.
    He lost Cleveland and Toledo and surrounding counties in Ohio and he lost Dade Country in Florida.
    Those all are heavily unionized, minority voters and Romney never appealed to any of them. He was doomed for not being able to turn those people.
    When I read this am that they were more shocked at the dem turnout than losing, that tell’s me they knew they were on a wing and a prayer all the time and really had no confidence in winning it. They whole plan was based on dems staying home?

  • Morgan Mundane

    I was visiting daughter in Milwaukee just before the election and that dam phone of her’s rang off the hook. All she did was pick it up and place it down. She and her husband already knew long before who they were voting for so those so called software programs really do nothing but irritate people.
    I agree with other posts. Troops on the ground are what count and 400,000 union troops in key districts helped Obama win.

  • Dr Jill Joyce

    I was also set to work for Orca. Listened to two web calls for 1 1/2 hrs then never got a packet. The final call wouldn’t go through until 32 calls or so. Then finally when I reached it and put in my code, the call said nothing was there. Could have been the other side trying to shut the most diligent for Romney down. I was very sad as I had other commitments to help also that I backed out of.

  • TJay229

    This was perfect.
    The GOP got just what they paid for & deserve. I love it.

    I won $2000.00 against a Romney supporter, like many of others, he only trusted what FOX, Rush, Ann,Brietbart & Michelle said, blind mice leading blind mice.

    And say what you will, come Jan 20th, Mitt Romney isnt going to be sworn in. LOL!



    • http://twitter.com/TheAngieNC2 Angie (D)

      Enjoy it while you can parasite — your host is dying.

      • TJay229

        Actually its the ANTIQUATED THINKING OF THE GOP that is dying out, as demonstrated on Tuesday you dried up cumrag. And with the bitternes and spite you just displayed, no wonder.

        Point is, Barack Obama will go down in the history books on so many levels like it or not… And there is nothing you or obviously your party can do about it, hell you spent >$1.2Billion to remove him, and failed. The joke is on YOU.

        Obamacare (safe)
        Roe v. Wade (safe)
        DOMA (overturned)
        Citizens United (overturned)

        Plus History again with the possibility of 5 Liberal Judges making it a Liberal court for @ least 15±years.


        • GTFOBigGovt

          Calling people especially women “cum rags” is so mature.

          • TJay229

            As is her calling me a parasite.

            “An eye for an eye.”

            And further more, I’m grown, if she or you have a problem with being called names, then don’t call someone else a name. Apply the logic to “her” not me.

          • http://twitter.com/TheAngieNC2 Angie (D)

            Calling you a parasite is a statement of fact.

        • http://twitter.com/TheAngieNC2 Angie (D)

          Nice that you go right for the misogynistic attacks, but that’s typical of all Obama supporters who are, in fact, the biggest racist & sexist pigs around — that’s why you scream that the GOP is sexist & racist (it’s called projection).

          And I’m very GLAD all his policies will stay in tact — I look forward to you having to pay a fine under Obamacare for being 30lbs overweight. If you had a job, I’d hope you’d be the first laid off.
          And calling you a parasite is just a statement of fact.

          • http://twitter.com/dodi1058 Dodi

            Fact, you lost.

  • RAL

    Had a conversation with two “moderate Republicans” who blamed all of the Republican woes on the Tea Party. Yet they were the first ones to say that they wanted to have Tea Party support in their local races because they actually got out and worked. Seems like Romney spent too much effort on technology and never put a back up plan in place to leverage the low-tech Tea Party volunteers. Too bad the moderate/establishment Republicans couldn’t lower themselves to work with the high energy group in the party. Things might have turned out differently.

  • sailordude

    When Romney didn’t pick Rubio as VP I was so bummed out. It was a critical outreach for the GOP for the Latino’s and Romney didn’t jump on it. Then all the pundits were talking up Ryan (like Charles Krauthammer) so I felt better, but sheesh Dude, you didn’t even come close in Wisconsin (they called it within 1 minute) and you lost Florida, what an epic fail not picking Rubio was.

    • Michelle Blackwell

      I don’t think Rubio would have improved anything. Maybe, maybe he would have helped to carry Florida but it would have been 303 to 235. Florida was worthless this election cycle.

    • http://twitter.com/TheAngieNC2 Angie (D)

      Yeah, because what the GOP needs is Hispanic outreach to win the MidWest.

      Just another MSM story line to distract/cover up what really happened.

    • GTFOBigGovt

      The GOP got fewer votes AFTER Reagan gave 3 million illegals amnesty. Don’t drink the Kool Aid.

  • HannahJK

    Bottom line. We’re not going to get more votes by ostercizing people (Tea Party or moderates). And we’re not going to get votes by forcing candidates to flip flop just to appease some voters.
    We need a tent that’s big enough to respect and welcome all types of conservatism. Picking a spot on the political spectrum shouldn’t have to require throwing everyone else under the bus.

    • CrashFroelich

      I hope the good ole boys at the RNC hear you.

  • Joseph Bentz

    I was an ORCA volunteer in Las Vegas. It was a colossal disaster. I had over 60 full pages of registered voters could not keep up even though it was a slow day at that polling station. The phone app was awful you had to enter the voter’s pin number individually and then the pound key on my cell after each entry. It was a good idea that went bad because enough thought was not given to the process.

  • Vet steve with a pet peeve

    I actually got up and walked out here in Boston after Orca failed and went and voted for Obama. I mean , you can’t even get technology working? Fuck it. I guess bibles dont make good scable applications.

  • http://twitter.com/TheAngieNC2 Angie (D)

    314,000 votes turned the *entire* election to Obama & it had nothing to do with the ORCA tech fail — that’s just part of the cover story.

  • alohasteve

    VERY INTERESTING. Three Separate Maps of County by County vote and vote trends in the 2012 Presidential Election…


  • BeeKaaay

    Remember, the democrats are leeched whales.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • http://twitter.com/TheAngieNC2 Angie (D)

    “Act like a lady” BWAHAHAHA — you don’t even understand how sexist that is you ignoramus. I know *exactly* how much you respect women by the fact that you support a misogynist like Obama. I don’t want nor seek your so-called “respect” parasite.

    Oh PS your the IGNORANT one — Roe v. Wade was never in danger of being overturned, but even if it was, it would NOT make abortions “illegal”– it would simply put the matter back 100% in the control of the states.

  • TJay229

    Get off your knees PWT.