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Was Romney Doomed By Bad Technology?

Anecdotal evidence has begun to trickle in that Mitt Romney’s fairly narrow defeat in key swing states, such as Virginia, Ohio and Florida, was caused in part by the failure of the campaign’s much-vaunted “Orca” get-out-the-vote technology.

Mitt RomneyVirginia campaign volunteers report that the “app” that was supposed to allow them to check-off voters as they came to the polls and send the information to Boston in real time crashed their smart phones, requiring them to use a cumbersome phone-in system that often failed.

“It [Orca] never did work,” said one long-time GOP volunteer, “Democrats voted 86% of their voters in my precinct. We would have been much better off to use the old Virginia GOP system.”

Another Virginia Romney campaign volunteer, a senior Hill staffer with many years of campaign experience said, “I couldn’t log-on to Orca the night before as instructed and called the help desk only to find it didn’t open until 7:00 a.m. on Election Day.  Our polls opened at 6:00 a.m. and by 7:00 a.m. there were 500 people in line.  It [the Romney GOTV effort] was totally disconnected from reality.”

The story was much the same in Florida with GOTV volunteers reporting they were unable to upload the data to Boston or that the Orca app never worked on their phones. “It was ridiculous to try to implement the system the night before the Election,” said one long-time Florida GOTV volunteer.

Byron York, The Washington Examiner’s chief political correspondent, reported on Orca’s problems from Boston, writing that a Romney aide admitted Orca had pretty much crashed in the heat of the action. “Somebody said Orca is lying on the beach with a harpoon in it,” York quoted the aide as saying, even as Orca was projecting a 290 to 300 electoral vote win for Governor Romney as late as 4:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Was Orca’s failure the difference between Governor Romney winning and losing in Virginia, Ohio and Florida?

No one will ever know for sure, but the long-time Hill staffer analyzed Orca’s failure this way, “In the time we spent screwing around with Orca we could have gotten another 100 voters to the polls – spread that across every swing precinct in Virginia and I think Romney would have won.”