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8 New Insights About The 2012 Race For President

Campaign managers gathered at Harvard last week to share insight. The proceedings of the Institute of Politics gathering went online today.

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1. Paul Ryan Was "Highly Meme-able”

Obama Digital Director Teddy Goff proclaimed Paul Ryan "highly meme-able” when asked about his initial response to Romney selecting the Wisconsin congressman as his running-mate.

"Voters usually don’t hear what is trending on Twitter," Goff explained, talking about Ryan's speech at the GOP convention. "The Janesville [GM plant that shut down] did."

“He was the perfect object for social media in this election," Goff added.

2. The Ryan Pick Helped Wisconsin Democrats Get Over Recall Loss

Sara Stathas / Reuters

After Scott Walker retained his seat earlier this year, “our folks in Wisconsin were totally demoralized," said Jeremy Bird, Obama's National Field Director.

“It was the hardest state for me as a field director to go out and organize," he added.

But that all changed when Romney selected Paul Ryan.

“Paul Ryan re-galvanized all of our troops in Wisconsin," Bird said.

3. What Obama's Digital Operation Was Really About

Goff explained that more than 90% of the Obama e-mail list voted in 2008 — the challenge in 2012 wasn't as much to keep them on board, but to reach out to more people.

Aside from fund-raising, Goff said the digital operation wasn’t about getting supporters on their lists to vote — it was about getting their friends to vote for Obama.


4. Obama's Massive Facebook Reach

According to Teddy Goff, the nearly 34 million Facebook users who "like" Barack Obama on the social networking sites are friends with 98% of the U.S. Facebook population, making it an effective tool to reach out to younger voters.

5. Romney Aides Say They Were Caught Off Guard By The "47%" Video

“I was there...I think I was actually out of the room," Stuart Stevens said when the moderators asked if any staffers heard it.

Campaign manager Matt Rhoades said the campaign didn't know the tape existed and that Romney was off his game that night.

“The governor was very good on his second go-around to make less of these kinds of mistakes,” he said, explaining that Romney is "streaky" and was in a rut that week.

6. Romney Had a 5-Point Plan to Recover from the "47%" Video

Charlie Neibergall / AP

Matt Rhoades explained how the campaign planned to keep the race close after the "47%" video.

• Have a good first debate

• Fire up the surrogates

• Give three big speeches on foreign policy, jobs and the economy, and deficits and entitlement reforms

• Potentially shift resources to different target states

• Freshen up events to make Romney look more presidential

“Even if it didn’t work, it gave us something to focus on, something to execute on," Rhoades explained.

8. Super PACs Shun Responsibility

"From the super PAC standpoint, it wasn’t our job to defend Mitt Romney," said Restore Our Future and American Crossroads strategist Carl Forti.

Forti, Charlie Spies, and Steven Law faced tough questions about the role of their organizations during the campaign, but said they did their part — keeping the pressure on Obama over the summer to keep Romney competitive.