Last week, at the post-election Harvard Institute of Politics conference, Republican campaign managers intensely took notes as Obama’s top campaign operatives explained some of the technology, data, and metrics the campaign employed to run circles around Mitt Romney’s operation.
According to the liberal BuzzFeed, Republican campaign managers at the conference said things like, “We got our butts kicked, so I’m going to school,” and, “We weren’t running in the same race.”
Republicans packed a room where Obama operatives such as strategist David Axelrod, campaign manager Jim Messina, and deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, director of polling David Simas, and field director Jeremy Bird discussed how the campaign implemented “big data” into their overall campaign strategy.
Buzzfeed noted that Republican operatives from Rick Perry’s failed campaign — like supposed data guru Dave Carney — and Mark Block, Herman Cain’s campaign manager, attended the strategy sessions. Others included prominent Super PAC leaders like Carl Forti, Charlie Spies, and Steven Law — all of whom wasted millions of dollars during the 2012 general election campaign. In addition, nearly everyone from Romney’s campaign team was at the conference to preempt operatives from pointing fingers.
Democrats outpaced Republicans on nearly all technological fronts during the 2012 campaign. And while there are some lessons Republicans can surely learn from the Obama campaign’s use of “big data,” the technological landscape will change between now and 2016. For instance, in 2008, campaigns hardly used Twitter or Facebook, both of which are now integral to any campaign.
Obsessively trying to reverse-engineer the Obama campaign’s 2012 campaign, may prove to be a fool’s errand, especially since the Obama campaign has insisted that its operation cannot be transferred to generic candidates. The Romney campaign’s big technological get-out-the-vote tool (ORCA), after all, was modeled after the Obama campaign’s 2008 get-out-the-vote technology. In the end, this proved to be more than disastrous for Team Romney.