It would have taken Mitt Romney’s campaign an extra two years to match the digital infrastructure assembled by President Obama’s reelection effort.
That’s according to Warner Jones, who was the digital program manager on Romney’s presidential bid. During a panel at C&E’s CampaignTech conference in Washington on Thursday, Jones said his team needed between nine and 24 months to catch up to Obama’s online organization. Part of the reason they were so far behind was staffing.
Romney’s digital team was a fraction of the incumbent’s—32 people compared to some 200 working for Obama’s digital operation. Moreover, almost half of the Romney digital operation was done by outside consultants—only 17 were in house.
That was by necessity, not design, Jones explained.
After winning the GOP presidential nomination, Romney was faced with a “build it or buy it” dilemma. “We needed to bring on people as quickly as possible. To bring on an entire staff in 30-45 days was ridiculous,” he said. “We did outsource” significantly.
“Starting from a standstill against this juggernaut was not a fair battle,” Jones added.
Meanwhile, Amelia Showalter, the former Director of Digital Analytics for Obama’s reelection campaign, said her staff can’t take sole credit for the president’s win. “We were building on a base of people who had done a lot of work in ’08 and ’10, so the party had something there to start from,” she said.
The 2012 Obama campaign was simply able to “take everything to the next level.”