Did Newt Gingrich Lose Florida for Want of a Better API?
BY Nick Judd | Thursday, February 2 2012
Salon's Sasha Issenberg has a great story outlining one narrative about Newt Gingrich's loss in Florida: He inspired a group of tech-savvy volunteers, but gave them no way to plug in to the campaign.
Here's a snippet from Issenberg's tale of Gingrich's swampland woe, which outlines how slow data systems and a lack of coordination hampered the candidate's get-out-the-vote efforts. The core character in his story is Michael Hendrix, a consultant and software developer who mobilized a group of 30 volunteers to Florida with a brand-new mobile voter canvassing tool that turned out to be incompatible with Gingrich's data structure:
The arrival of the bus full of Texans calling themselves an elite strike force in the days before the primary cheered the campaign office. It was a classic Newtian development—bold, unconventional, tech-driven—and it seemed to reaffirm that Gingrich really was inspiring grass-roots enthusiasm nationwide. Over lunch on election day, Hendrix reviewed the project’s numbers. His team had reached 48,000 voters, more than twice their initial target. But the information they collected went into the app and effectively died there, never merging with the campaign’s own databases. Gingrich’s campaign had no ability to follow up with identified voters, whether to reach the undecided with persuasive appeals or to target declared supporters with reminders to turn out. “We didn’t have a plan to turn out voters. We had a plan to ID them,” Hendrix said over lunch on election day. “It wasn’t because we didn’t have enough time. It’s because we weren’t working with a campaign.”
This post has been corrected.