Buried deep in the breaking news about election fraud enveloping Willard Romney and the Republican party is a nugget that could negatively impact the candidate's ability to rally his troops in advance of November 6.
The bombshell hidden behind the fraud allegations is the fact that the Romney campaign had depended on the firm behind the scandal for much of its GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts in some hotly-contested swing states. Willard's team outsourced this activity to the RNC, which in turn paid state parties which further paid consulting firm Strategic Allied Consulting to energize the base and ensure voters showed up to cast ballots.
The development puts the ground game advantage back into the Obama team's court.
After dumping about $3.1 million into the coffers of the Republican vendor, now under investigation for submitting 108 fraudulent voter registrations in Florida, Romney and the party pulled away from deals with the company. The GOP political teams, aware of the firm's past allegations of electoral indiscretions, agreed to embrace the business if it changed its name, so as "to not be a distraction."
The Florida State Attorney's office has widened its initial Palm Beach probe to 10-plus counties as the scandal threatens to engulf state elections officials, according to a Los Angeles Times report. GOP operatives in at least seven swing states and California had hired the suspect company.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, problems included the lack of Social Security numbers, fake house numbers, and dates of birth that didn’t match the name. The paper suggested the Republicans have their own homegrown ACORN-style tempest brewing. A major difference, it noted, citing 2009 testimony of former Republican Rep. Chris Cannon (UT), “the difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn't throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”
"It was that flagrant," elections supervisor Ann W. Bodenstein told the Los Angeles Times. "In no way did they look genuine. Anyone with any sense would have known there was something wrong.”
[UPDATE: The Colorado Republican Party has terminated its contract with [Strategic Allied Consulting, the] firm hired to run voter registration and get-out-the-vote operations [in Colorado] after allegations of fraud, FOX31 Denver has confirmed. .. .And FOX31 Denver has confirmed that the young woman seen registering voters outside a Colorado Springs grocery store in a YouTube video, in which she admits to trying to only register voters who support Mitt Romney, was indeed a contract employee of Sproul’s company.]
When Team Obama's operational advantages were pointed out to the Romney campaign before the scandal broke, they stressed that the RNC was taking the lead on most of that work. "[The RNC] is already picking up the tab for Romney's ground game, paying for staff, calls, mailers, data, polling and voter registration efforts," noted one committee staffer. And this was before the GOTV handlers fell through.
"These efforts may be helpful, but Romney still lags on this front. Obama currently has 85 offices in Florida to Romney's 47, according to the candidates' websites. Obama has 96 offices in Ohio, meanwhile, compared to Romney's 36," said a report from The Hill on Tuesday.The collapse of the GOTV apparatus comes at the same time as Romney's collapse in the polls has escalated as his right-wing supporters go into meltdown mode seeking to change the outcome by changing poll results.
The RNC’s rapid decision to distance itself from the company derailed a major voter registration drive just six weeks before the presidential election, which could hinge on voter turnout in about eight battleground states. It also comes as Republicans around the country have sought to make voter fraud an issue, in part by pressing for voter identification laws.The chickens of rampant outsourcing come home to roost.