Tags: romney | digital | team | strategy

Romney's Digital Team Comes Under Fire for Election Day

Friday, 16 Nov 2012 10:38 PM

By Stephen Feller

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Conservative writers and GOP digital professionals are lashing out at the company that handled Mitt Romney’s online efforts and internal software as ineffective and partially to blame for the election loss.

Zac Moffatt and his company, Targeted Victory, are beginning to have the blame heaped on their heads for slow responses to attack ads from the Obama campaign, a seeming lack of an online strategy and problems with the much-publicized online vote counting software, Orca, that was designed to track the campaign’s progress in its ground game, reported the National Journal.

“Republicans feel they’ve been kicked in the teeth twice now on digital. The reality doesn’t match the hype,” said Peter Pasi, who handled search engine strategy for Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign during the GOP primary.

“The Romney spokespeople talked a big game and didn’t play it. The Obama people played a big game and didn’t talk about it,” he said.

While the Romney campaign spent about half what the Obama team poured into its online efforts - the Republican spent about $26 million on it - Moffatt said the digital strategy he built not only was robust but will benefit the party in the future.

Conservative’s simmering anger has been focused on questions about where the $17 million Targeted Victory received for handling online duties that included online advertising, online infrastructure, renting e-mail lists, prospecting for new donors, and other outreach efforts.

“There are costs in building out a massive digital presence,” Moffatt said. The digital effort also helped build "assets that will be in place to help the Republican Party for years to come," he said.

Eric Frenchman, a search and online specialist at Campaign Solutions, said the campaign was slow to react online to advertising, rallies or mistakes by Obama and Democrats, squandering opportunities to distinguish Romney in a positive way from his opponent.

“They didn’t look like they had experience in running digital advertising," Frenchman said. “When Romney really destroyed President Obama in the first debate, they had no changes to their website.”

Moffatt said glitches in Orca, which tracked voter outreach and actual votes, can’t be blamed for the failure of the campaign, adding that his team’s work garnered 38 million visitors to the campaign website, 59 million volunteer contacts, a big rise in small-dollar donations and raised $65 million dollars in October alone online.

“I know we ran the most sophisticated and aggressive digital campaign in the history of Republican politics,” Moffatt said. “We had the resources we needed to be competitive,” he said, adding, "We're very happy with the way the program ran digitally."

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