Tag Archives | 2012 elections

Why the Romney campaign was gobsmacked after losing

The Romney campaign was clueless, arrogant  and believed their own polls rather than the more objective independent polls. I’m convinced that the incompetents they had doing polls for them simply told the Romney campaign what it wanted to hear while collecting fat fees. This was made worse by their determined and persistent delusion that the electorate was comprised primarily of well-off, middle-aged, conservative Anglo males.


In a TV interview [Romney campaign manager Stuart] Stevens said the Romney campaign didn’t do a good enough job reaching out to Latinos and women. To which we say, hey, don’t sell yourself short. You did a bang-up job of reaching out to Latinos and women – telling Latinos to self-deport themselves and women to slap on chastity belts.

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Obama campaign tech infrastructure made Romney look lame

Amazon Web Services and the cloud allowed the Obama campaign to focus on building applications rather than maintaining infrastructure

The Obama campaign used open source and the cloud to build a highly efficient powerhouse tech infrastructure. It was done in-house too, not outsourced, which gave them more control. They hired the best and the brightest, with good results. The online fundraising module, for example, was bulletproof – hardened, massively redundant, not dependent on other modules, and designed to keep operating even if its own database failed.

By contrast, the Romney campaign outsourced everything and the idiots in charge didn’t even test the system to track voters. Instead it went live at 6 AM on Election Day and unsurprisingly crashed spectacularly. Romney boasted about being a businessman who could get things done yet his own tech infrastructure was ineptly planned and executed, making numskull rookie mistakes.

Key in maximizing the value of the Obama campaign’s IT spending was its use of open source tools and open architectures. Linux—particularly Ubuntu—was used as the server operating system of choice. “We were technology agnostic, and used the right technology for the right purpose,” VanDenPlas said. “Someone counted nearly 10 distinct DBMS/NoSQL systems, and we wrote something like 200 apps in Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, and Node.js.”

It also helped that the campaign, at least for internally developed applications, relied almost exclusively on Amazon Web Service for its infrastructure.

Using the Amazon cloud had huge advantages. The services are metered, you only pay for what you use, with no monthly fees. Servers scale instantly to meet any load. Plus, the campaign didn’t have to worry about maintaining the infrastructure because Amazon was doing it for them and thus could concentrate on building applications.

Emphasis added:

This is the difference,” VanDenPlas said, “between a well run professional machine and a gaggle of amateurs, posing in true Rumsfeldian fashion, who ‘don’t know what they don’t know.’ I would be shocked if such a chasm exists next cycle between the parties—these aren’t mistakes to be repeated if you want to do things like win elections.”

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Orca vs Narwhal. Obama campaign did disaster planning

Narwhal, the computer infrastructure essential to the Obama campaign, was tested, re-tested, and subject to disaster scenarios. It performed perfectly. Contrast this to the bumbling Romney campaign that attempted a lightweight platform called Orca that they didn’t even test and which failed miserably, and you see the differences between the campaigns.

In fact, the day after the October 21 game day, Amazon services — on which the whole campaign’s tech presence was built — went down. “We didn’t have any downtime because we had done that scenario already,” Reed said. Hurricane Sandy hit on another game day, October 29, threatening the campaign’s whole East Coast infrastructure. “We created a hot backup of all our applications to US-west in preparation for US-east to go down hard,” Reed said.

This is a perfect example of the power of cloud computing. Amazon web services charges by usage and scales instantly to meet demand. This is ideal for campaign software which will have tremendous usage on Election Day. The campaign doesn’t have to buy and maintain hundreds of servers. Instead, they in effect rent them from Amazon (or Rackspace or Azure) on an as needed basis then shut it down when they’re done. This means they can focus completely on the software they are creating (which clearly is something the Romney campaign in their arrogant cluelessness, didn’t do, focus on building a robust platform.)

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Republican Gov. Jindal rejects Romney claims on ‘gifts’

Jindal is absolutely correct here. His pointblank rejection of Romney’s sore loser claims shows that Romney is now a has-been with little or no remaining juice or power. A now-doddering formerly Alpha male has been swatted aside by a new pack leader.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal forcefully rejected Mitt Romney’s claim that he lost because of President Barack Obama’s “gifts” to minorities and young voters.

“No, I think that’s absolutely wrong. Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote. And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American Dream.”

Romney’s self-serving statements about why he lost the election show him to be near-delusional and nasty as well. He blamed everyone but himself, even when he arguably ran one of the most inept campaigns in recent memory.

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Romney ORCA failure shows ineptness of campaign

The abject failure of ORCA, the online Romney campaign tool for tracking votes on election day, highlights how the campaign had no freaking idea what it was doing and was probably arrogantly overconfident as well. Romney wanted to run the country when his campaign couldn’t even manage to put a working piece of software online? Gimme a break…

ORCA could not have been tested. It was dumped on thousands of poll watchers and volunteers on election day with little explanation, no contingency plans or backup systems, and it mostly failed. This is beyond a rookie mistake. It shows the Romney campaign were ignoramuses about online systems and the need for testing and that no one with any actual competence was in charge of the project. Further, it appears that a primary reason for its failure was vicious internal fights between the various consultants and staffers. Romney championed himself as a seasoned and experienced businessman yet his campaign , which certainly should be run like a business, failed spectacularly in any number of areas.

I develop accounting packages for businesses, specializing in converting legacy Clipper and FoxPro to Windows. A client is about to go live with a replacement accounting package I wrote that will do all their accounting and invoicing. We’ve been testing and refining it for weeks in a work environment. It’s ready to go.

My client and I have done extensive testing. The Romney campaign clearly did none for ORCA. It blew up in their faces and showed them to be, despite all their bluster about knowing how to run businesses, not much more than an incompetent clown show.

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