ORCA, meet Narwhal. This is how it’s done.
Back in April, I posted an article on my personal website addressing the potential of the Obama juggernaut, Operation Narwhal to win the election. This operation was the ground game that defeated Romney’s Project ORCA and turned out the Democratic vote. I also wrote another post back in 2011 about how Obama could be re-elected, centering on five strategies: 1) the Chicago machine; 2) class and economic warfare strategies; 3) the Democratic voter base; 4) social media usage and strategy; 5) October surprise. I don’t pretend to be any more or less prescient than the fine authors and commenters on this website, so it is somewhat mortifying to me why we could see what was happening and the Romney campaign could not, or refused to.
Romney is a decent man, a philanthropist, a successful businessman, a man of faith and family. I believe he would have made an excellent President. However, Romney’s problem was that despite his one term as a governor, he had no political skills. He approached his campaign as though running for CEO of America.
Romney and his campaign violated the #1 rule in politics: never give your opponent the opportunity to define you. Romney went through a grueling primary and burned through his cash. When he was carpet bombed with attack ads on everything from Bain Capital to being a tax cheat, and then indirectly responsible for a woman’s death, he had nothing to hit back with. That he chose to ignore the attacks for the most part and take the high road did not help him before the American people. Combine his slips of the tongue made during the primary season, with his 47% comment at a private fundraiser, and we see a candidate who while he had his heart in the right place, had no keen political instincts that he could be taped anywhere, anytime.
As for the massive screwup called ORCA, this is how an inexperienced staff can destroy a candidate and the hopes of 58 million Americans. It once again goes back to Romney’s political skills. When Rupert Murdoch tweeted,
“Met Romney last week. Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful.”
and former CEO Jack Welch chimed in,
Hope Mitt Romney is listening to Murdoch advice ont campaign staff..playing in league with Chicago pols..No room for amateurs did not have the savvy or experienced campaign staff to take him past the primaries and through the national election.
the warning flags were being hoisted. Later in the year, Noonan, Kristol and The Wall Street Journal joined in questioning what the Romney camp was doing. Yet Romney’s response remained, “My campaign doesn’t need a turnaround.”
The Democrats’ Operation Narwhal had fields offices and volunteers locally in each of the 50 states. While many Republicans laughed at the Obama Event Registry, and “Have dinner with Michelle and Barack,” the Democrats were collecting email addresses and demographic data so that they could target people with specific emails on specific issues. On election day, they turned out the vote.
And the Republicans, we got ORCA. Beaten and eaten by a grown-up Flipper.