In the wake of Obama's sweeping second term victory, conservatives looking for a scapegoat found a convenient one in Zac Moffatt, Romney's digital director and a cofounder of the major GOP digital ad firm Targeted Victory. Fellow Republicans criticized Moffatt's team as having been incapable or too pricey, according to the National Journal. And questions about Romney's troubled get-out-the-vote operation, Project Orca, inevitably focused on Moffatt even though he was barely involved.
Breitbart editor Mike Flynn was among those angry at the digital team, tweeting just days after the election: "Zac Moffatt made millions while he screwed the country because of his incompetence. Can we please agree that he is done in politics?"
Not so fast.
Today, Moffatt's Targeted Victory says they have more clients than they ever have before. Those clients include some of the most coveted groups of the GOP, including the Republican National Committee, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, Marco Rubio's Reclaim America PAC, Paul Ryan's Prosperity PAC, and the Republican Jewish Coalition, according to the firm.
Last month, Targeted Victory posted 13 new job listings on its site, saying it was "beginning to gear up for 2014 and beyond ... [and] looking to expand." In an interview, Moffatt says more than 300 people responded. Yet some young digital guns in the Republican party question why those who they say failed the Romney campaign are still around.
At a "Blogger Briefing" event hosted at the Heritage Foundation Tuesday, prominent conservative blogger Ben Domenech said "a great housecleaning" needed to happen in the GOP but that "the people who were in charge are still frankly getting the money."
The National Journal reports Targeted Victory was paid $17 million by the Romney campaign, not including Moffatt's salary or salaries of other digital staffers that worked for the campaign. The Center for Responsive Politics puts that number higher, at more than $26 million paid to the firm. Moffatt says the vast majority of that money went to online advertising, and that Targeted Victory acted as a sort of conduit to pay other firms.
Justin Hart, who was head of special digital projects for the Romney campaign, said Tuesday that the failures of the Romney digital team extended beyond the high cost.
"We've got to hire technologists first and politicos second. And that wasn't the case on the campaign," he said at the briefing. "Even if Obama was that far ahead of us, there's no reason why we couldn't try to excel... I think we made our decision that we weren't going to try to beat him."
Back in August, Moffatt told Whispers he "always knew we would be outspent by the Obama campaign" but that the Romney campaign would just have to be smarter.
Today, Moffatt hasn't wavered in his resolve, saying Targeted Victory did what they could. His cofounder at Targeted Victory, Michael Beach, agrees, and hits back against criticism of the firm.
The critics are "the same people that either lost to Mitt Romney in the primary or were not good enough to be hired by the 7+ candidates that ran in the field," Beach said in an emailed statement. Vincent Harris, a political strategist who ran online operations for Texas Governor Rick Perry and then former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, recently slammed the Romney campaign as "a very insular, closed operation" in a New York Times story about the Internet and the GOP.
Targeted Victory's post-election work has already started to gather critics, too. On Monday, RedState's Ron Robinson pointed out that mass emails sent from the RNC (via Targeted Victory) contained cut and pasted code from the Romney campaign pages, and that supporters who tried to respond to those emails were directed to an address that looked like a bot instead of a real person.
"The RNC still insists it is going to learn how to play a better digital game," Robinson wrote. "Those of us who have a bit of digital sense are not going to believe the RNC until we see things like this change."
But Moffatt isn't concerned about his critics, noting that "the marketplace will, as always, determine the best solutions." So far, Targeted Victory is winning.