Did an app failure cost Romney the presidency?

Did an app failure cost Romney the presidency?
President Barack Obama is the first president to preside over the smartphone age in the U.S., and in both of his presidential campaigns the technology he employed helped him win the election. On the other hand, Mitt Romney's campaign clumsily handled technology as though it were a wet football and the failure of an app might have led to the easier than expected re-election of President Obama.

The app was part of a system called Project ORCA that was designed to collect and monitor polls using smartphones to collect information in real-time. The goal of the app was to see which areas of the country were suffering from low voter turnout. The Romney campaign would then send out staff to get the vote out in those areas. But instead of adding thousands of votes, a number of problems with the app and how it was accessed might have led to Romney missing out on thousands of potential votes.

Using the app was designed to be faster and more precise than using phone calls to get voters to areas where they were needed the most. "We will have had much more scientific information just based on the political operation we have set up," said Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho to PBS. Another campaign worker laid out the game plan for the use of Project Orca when he said, "By knowing the current results of a state, we can continue to adjust and micro target our get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure a Romney victory." It might have been the app that led Romney to be so confident of winning, that he prepared only a victory speech for election day. By the time the evening rolled aound, the app had crashed and could not be used. A source in Boston told a Washington paper that "somebody said Orca is lying on the beach with a harpoon in it."

Even before sunlight started to fade last Tuesday, Romney's campaign workers were having problems using Project ORCA. Some of the problems were due to the lack of technological prowess among Romney staffers and volunteers. One volunteer, reported that the materials used to train campaign workers was inaccurate. Romney campaign staff was told to look for a native mobile app when it was a web app with an https URL address. Because http did not redirect the user to the correct site, anyone typing www or http could not access the site.

Romney himself said that Project Orca would give him an "unprecedented advantage on election day." 34,000 operatives with the Project ORCA app installed on a smartphone were placed in key areas around the country. Based on data that these campaign workers were generating with the app instead of listening to traditional exit polls, the Romney campaign would know by lunch time which states they were ahead or behind in and could shift resources from states they were winning to the states they were trailing in. By the time the polls were closed, Project ORCA was supposed to know how 18 to 23 million people voted.

By 4pm on election day, Project ORCA was calling for an electoral vote total of between 290 and 300 for Romney which would have given him more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Compare this to the incredible accuracy of Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight blog which gave Romney only an 8% chance of amassing the electoral votes needed for victory the day before the polls opened.

Project ORCA failed, costing Romney thousands of votes. Yet, not all of the problems were from the technology as CBS News' Jan Crawford suggests. "They expected it to be between 2004 and 2008 levels, with a plus-2 or plus-3 Democratic electorate, instead of plus-7 as it was in 2008," said Crawford. "Their assumptions were wrong on both sides: The president's base turned out and Romney's did not. More African-Americans voted in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida than in 2008. And fewer Republicans did: Romney got just over 2 million fewer votes than John McCain."

source: AceofSpadesHuffingtonPost via CNET



1. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Sounds like team Romney needs remedial training in app development....


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

No, their problem was that it was an iOS app and they read it 'the wrong way'.

23. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

That is awesome such a small app could destroy someone's dreams, hopes, and goals. PS: I might use this app on most-all of my enemies

51. Topcat488

Posts: 1416; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

Hey, why should we open up old wounds... What if we try "Working together for the development of our Country". Division will surely make us fall, and the world is looking and laughing at us... There's an App for that!?! Reporting from Germany... Topcat488

2. ibap

Posts: 867; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

More finger-pointing and refusal to face facts and data.

7. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

It was over with when team Romney started attacking pollsters. Maybe one or two polls could be off. But 40+ in the last week before the election?

26. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2451; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I believe both Romney and Obama have been doing a lot of finger pointing. If you're going to call one out, you better call the other one out.

27. bubbadoes

Posts: 1225; Member since: May 03, 2012

The real Dr. Phil is a Democrat! Get your own handle!!!!!

32. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2451; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Since when can you be a Democrat, Republican, or Independent and not be able to call out politicians of any party on what they've done wrong? I know plenty of Democrats who were upset by President Obama's first term. In fact, if you look at the popular vote, Obama was down about 8 million votes this time around. I wouldn't say these votes went to the other side, as Romney was also down about 2 million votes from McCain's 2008 presidential run. I have talked with a good handful of Democrats who were upset over Obama's term in office and told me they were either going to go third party or not vote at all. Same goes for Republicans. I know a good handful of Republicans that were upset over Romney being chosen as their nominee and decided to vote third party this time around. The point is that just because you may identify yourself with a certain party or consider yourself an independent, that does not mean you are not allowed to call out the politicians on what they've done wrong.


Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

Romney lost because he was an insincere liar. Saying one thing this morning and another by night fall. Say what you mean and mean what you say. The Republican party needs and over haul it is being torn a apart by the tea party. Both parties need to get rid of public interest groups, and do whats right for America instead of whats right for people with large sums of cash who are pulling stings behind the scenes like the Koch brothers, or by Grover Norquist.

55. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! Im so glad someone else said it lol. The Republican party have kept their stubborn ways since the 50s and its not working. Lets see what they're views are: 1. they dont relate to women and their issues (especially dealing with single mothers and abortion) 2. They dont care for the poverty-stricken areas (primarily those within the african-american community) 3. They are against homosexuality (Im not gay, but you have to relate to their rights no matter how wrong you think it is) Need i say more?? You cant be that conservative to ignore what this country's issues are. This isnt 1955 where the only people that have a voice are white people!! those days are gone and republicans needs to start over

72. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 913; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

I loved seeing Romney's comments in the what's hot section of Google+. 90% of the comments were people fact checking him and calling him a liar (guilty of that myself on multiple posts). Maybe I'll see if Fox News posts in G+ and have some fun with that.

3. SF_Steven

Posts: 12; Member since: Apr 18, 2012

IMHO, one of the biggest failures of this program was inaccurate communication from the people in charge: ORCA wasn't an "app" in the "download an app to your phone" sense, it was a "web app" in the "navigate to a website, log on, and go from there". By insisting on using a misleading buzzword instead of being explicit about what was going on, people were confused. Not to diminish the tech savvy of the volunteers but when was the last time you heard about an "app" that WASN'T something you downloaded directly to your phone?

5. Bfrenz

Posts: 285; Member since: Aug 26, 2012

Hmmm... LoL.

12. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

No, Romney was winning until Sandy hit. Somehow he got more votes even though a democrat stronghold with millions of democrat voters was left without power and water. uh huh.. polls said that 40% of peeps that voted for Obozo said his "sandy efforts" (aka photo op) pushed them towards him. he didnt do jack squat other than walk around with Chris Christy.. that jackass cost his own party the election. People are frikkin stupid.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Well, Obama was lucky that Chris Christie didn't eat him. I'm not an Obama fan but, it was genius the way he "spun" the hurricane to his advantage.

29. bubbadoes

Posts: 1225; Member since: May 03, 2012

Romney never had a snowballs chance in ,,,,,the only polls showed him winning was foxnews and american crossroads,,,,,not was only the election a LANDSLIDE victory but winning All the battlegrounds states to include almost winning a red state of nc is really no point in arguing...this subject can go on and on but 2016 is far far away so suck it up and move on,,i thought this was phonearena not politico im waiting on the droid dna and you all are still crying about romney and his lost

31. DROIDX0430

Posts: 469; Member since: Nov 24, 2010

Not only do you not know phones...you dont know polictics or facts either. November 6 2012. reelected.. Landslide.. All battlegrounds states won...history again remixfa Went under wrong post number 12

38. willard12 unregistered

What about cutting red tape at FEMA? You know, that agency Romney wanted to get rid of. And when asked about it, didn't have the courage to answer the repeated questions. But OK, we'll go with your theory that lack of power because of a hurricane is "obozo's" fault. Can you add two wars on a credit card (1 on false Intel), a $500 billion surplus to $10.2 trillion deficit, the worst economic collapse since 1929, terrorist attacks on US soil (in spite of a CIA memo called "al queda determined to attack in US")? Let's forget about the fact that more jobs have been added in the 6 months than the previous 12 years. I guess there is no improvement and tax cuts for the 1% was the answer. It worked so well in 2002. Or, maybe Romney lost because he demeaned the 47% ( which is mostly people who pay payroll taxes, social security recepients, military in combat such as myself, and college students). Or maybe he Obozo won because the app was bad, the dept. of labor cooked the books, a hurricane, the liberal media, and Karl Rove was right. But remember, Obozo, won the 10 highest educated states, Romney won 9/10 least educated states......what a coincidence.

54. Topcat488

Posts: 1416; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

HEY-- Willard12--Just like in Baseball, all the runners that were on base before the relief pitcher came on, them runs still goes in the starting pitchers column. That means, all the trillions spent to end the "WARS" that Bush started. Goes under the deficit of The War Starter... ie Still Trillions under the Bush Deficit run-up...

59. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

E X A C T L Y!!!! But I guess its Obama's fault for the war that started after 9-11.... You know what makes this even more amazing comparing Bush and Obama...didnt Clinton have a major war happen on his watch? How was jobs and the economy while Clinton was in office? Gas was real low while Clinton was in office. Makes you wonder now, and ppl should really step back and look at the bigger picture and stop blindly hating... But for some wild reason....people never wanna talk about Clinton.

42. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

remixfa - there is fairly objective polling proof that Sandy did not 'interrupt' Mittens' 'momentum'. You may not want to hear this, but Mittens' was starting to slide in a majority of polls that were conducted in the swing states before Sandy hit. Since the POTUS is elected by electoral votes, swing states are all that matters (ask W. about that - 2000, eh). Blaming Sandy or polling bias or whatever for Mittens' loss ignores the fundamental fact that the Rs need to broaden their appeal. The point when Mittens became viable was when he was able to turn to the center in the first debate and Barry didn't challenge him. He went into the debate with a campaign that was on the verge of being written off. By his crew of fellow 1%-er donors, no less.

52. Topcat488

Posts: 1416; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

Well, remixfa... Why didn't Rmoney go take a look in that disaster area... Your right maybe he was winning until Sandy hit... Problem was , he didn't play "Politics", the very reason he was in the race to play... It sure would of made him look "Presidential"... @ Remixfa #12

60. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Exactly. Was anybody holding a gun to Romney's head and saying dont go visit the victims of Sandy? Its amazing how some ppl think...

73. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 913; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

How is this different from Romney's photo ops? Oh wait they were legitimate and not staged.. Face it. Romney was a clown who flopped on all the issues, failed to give details on his plans and flat out lied.

15. aahmed215

Posts: 169; Member since: Jun 18, 2012

Romney didn't lose because of an app. He lost because people don't want another President from a backwards political party like the Republican Party.

16. iGREGG

Posts: 66; Member since: Sep 18, 2012


19. iGREGG

Posts: 66; Member since: Sep 18, 2012


24. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Watching Romney run for election is like watching Donald Trump running for election. All they do is run their mouth trying to make the other look bad, while staying inconsistent with their goals and plans. The first news I saw about him before the election started got me thinking what an a-hole this guy is and I can't believe how many support he gathered with the way he is. The future looks bad if this the kind of presidential candidate that's going to be running for elections. We should be picking between quality individuals, people like Romney is certainly not one of them.


Posts: 316; Member since: Jul 15, 2009

He lost cuz America don't want another Bush era, good an real Republicans like Ronald Reagan doesn't exist anymore...!!!

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