I still blame the defeat mostly on robo-calls, which made it difficult to get our message to the voters, both during phone banks and canvassing sessions. Slate takes an interesting look at the phenomenon and sees its potential, both good and bad. Robo-calls are the cheapest way to reach the most people and can be specifically targeted in a number of different ways, however they are also one of the most ineffective forms of communication. People at least take some satisfaction when they can yell at an actual person at the other end of the line for interrupting their dinner, but any satisfaction is killed when you only have a computer at the other end.
The ultimate effectiveness of robo-calls, though, is as a "dirty trick". At the end of the Slate article it states:
Which is exactly the problem we faced. Irate callers who told us we'd been calling them at all hours of the night or 3 times during dinner, although it was really just the opponents robo-calls. The media, unfortunately, didn't catch on to this whole concept until the final days leading up to the election or even after, in some cases. People weren't hearing about it from the tv and the newspapers, so they didn't believe it when they were hearing about it from our staff. I only hope some rules are seriously put into place to deal with these calls and/or that the electorate wises up. However, by the time that happens, just like in sports, there will already be a new trick to pull one over on the other side, it's all in the game.
The natural reaction, when you get a robo-call, is to blame the politician
mentioned at the outset. "I'm calling with information about Jane Smith," the
caller will say. You hang up; the phone rings again; it's about Smith again. You
dial 411 and demand the number for the Smith campaign. You shout at the campaign receptionist that you'll never vote for Smith again. But the joke's on you. The people who sent the robot after you don't want you to vote for Smith. And the poor receptionist can't possibly explain this to you and all the other people jamming her lines. Even a bank of Smith volunteers, working the phones all day, can't fix the damage done by a half-hour of robo-calling. They're only human.