But, would it have mattered if ORCA had done its job?
Here is where the whole farce unravels, because the short answer is absolutely not, because robocalling is stupid and doesn’t work.
And we don’t just take our own word for it (even though we have hung up on every robocall we have ever gotten): Robocalls have been studied over and over again, and they simply don’t turn people out, forget about in the tens of thousands necessary to turn Romney’s loss into a win.
Some bloggers have cited the number of additional votes needed for a win by Romney in swing states (66,379 in Nevada, 73,189 in Florida, 103, 481 in Ohio and 115,910 in Virginia), with one lead critic writing that if not for Project ORCA, the GOP could have turned these states around.
The intricacies of the effectiveness — or ineffectiveness — of GOTV operations are a big subject best left for the coming weeks, but that charge is, as one data wizard put it, “total bullshit.”
Because the hard truth of the matter is that 30,000 volunteers and a website — no matter how devoted and how nifty — don’t actually swing 359,000 votes on the final day of a two-year election campaign.
So why has everyone turned on this simple website?
This is heart of the matter time, and should start with a series of questions: Why the hell have we been hearing about this thing, and how it lost the election, for the past couple of weeks? And why didn’t the Democrats not bay for blood when the Obama campaign’s similar GOTV program, Houdini, had hiccups in 2008? Well, here are three simple answers:
1) The ORCA-as-villain narrative is working because too many people find it convenient. As long as conservatives and Republicans are talking about ORCA, they aren’t talking about how the percent of Hispanics for Obama increased since 2008; they aren’t talking about how all of the Republicans consultants predicted that Obama’s voter turnout among his key constituencies would decrease, when on Election Day, it stayed level or increased; and they certainly aren’t talking about how Republicans, and their support groups, spent hundreds of millions of dollars without moving the meter one damn bit.
2) The ORCA-as-villain narrative is working because it’s an easy target. Most folks don’t really understand what ORCA did, or didn’t do, and so long as data guys aren’t invited on “Meet the Press” — and, by and large, they aren’t — folks aren’t going to find out.
3) The ORCA-as-villain narrative is working because Romney lost, and he lost big. The media only care what went wrong when people lose.
But the really scary part is that just because the wrong man was executed, doesn’t mean the real villain isn’t out there somewhere. The Grand Old Party lost the election to a battered president in the middle of a recession and a continuing global strategic crisis, and that happened because a lot of serious mistakes were made.
These are scary questions, and they necessitate scary answers.