Since August, I have regularly commented on the lack of technological proficiency exhibited by the McCain campaign. Apparently, the technological bungling hasn’t stopped.

Sarah Lai Stirland’s October piece in Wired magazine, describing how the Obama campaign leveraged its technological advantage, also highlighted the technological ineptness of the McCain campaign.

Like Obama, the RNC and the McCain campaign offer supporters their own set of social networking tools. But volunteers in Florida say they generally don’t use the sites. Harout Samra, chairman of the Florida College Republicans, notes that McCain launched his services — McCainSpace and McCain Nation — relatively late in the campaign, and Samra and his fellow organizers had already gotten used to relying on Facebook and Storm, the College Republicans’ social networking tool.

“Some of it is just repetitive, without adding much value,” says Samra, a 25-year-old University of Miami law student. “I really don’t have time to learn how to use something new.”

Even McCain supporters readily acknowledge Obama’s superior online organizing.

“I will just say that they’ve done a great job reaching out to young people,” says 20-year-old Justin York, Central Florida chairman of Students for McCain. “I do have a lot of respect for whoever cooked up their operation, because it’s an impressive machine that they have built among young people…. We don’t have anything nearly as advanced as the Obama campaign.”

It’s a sentiment expressed by McCain supporters in other demographics.

“I’m afraid we’re not that sophisticated,” says Judy Wise, a retiree in Plant City. Wise is a lifelong Republican who volunteers three full days of her week for the McCain campaign. She manages McCain’s Plant City office, where volunteers use the RNC’s Voter Vault for phone banks, but not for neighborhood canvasses.

“It would be nice to know who the undecideds are,” she says. “You don’t want to waste your time on those people who are already voting for McCain, or those who have already made their minds up on Barack Obama.”

“We’ve probably called every Republican in Orange County at least twice,” says the College Republicans’ York. “Some people tell us politely that they’ve been called, but others shout: ‘This is the third time I’ve been called, and if you call again, I’m going to change my vote!'”

And so we all know what happened on November 4th. On the shoulders of millions of online supporters and donors — many of which were recruited and welcomed thanks to the Obama’s extensive technological outreach — Obama routed McCain to become the 44th President-elect of the United States of America. After the election, whether it was a matter of not knowing how to do it or sheer laziness, the information on campaign aides’ Blackberries remained on the devices — including the personal contact information of a plethora of reporters, political operatives, politicians, and others. And the Blackberries were sold in a firesale.

An enterprising DC television reporter named Tisha Thompson picked a couple up, and a story was born.

When we charged them up in the newsroom, we found one of the $20 Blackberry phones contained more than 50 phone numbers for people connected with the McCain-Palin campaign, as well as hundreds of emails from early September until a few days after election night.

We traced the Blackberry back to a staffer who worked for “Citizens for McCain,” a group of democrats who threw their support behind the Republican nominee. The emails contain an insider’s look at how grassroots operations work, full of scheduling questions and rallying cries for support.

(Given the success — or lack thereof — of the McCain campaign and incidents like this, anyone thinking of using these devices to see how grassroots operations really work might want to reevaluate that thought.)

“Somebody made a mistake,” one owner told us. “People’s numbers and addresses were supposed to be erased.”

“They should have wiped that stuff out,” another said. But he added, “Given the way the campaign was run, this is not a surprise.”

We called the McCain-Palin campaign, who says, “it was an unfortunate staff error and procedures are being put in place to ensure all information is secure.”

This story is a funny one, but getting serious for one second, it’s a very good thing Barack Obama won. Apparently not only did McCain not understand technology, but his staff — the people that likely would have gone to the White House with him — apparently didn’t have any technological appreciation or common sense either. It’s just one more nugget to remind us to count our blessings and appreciate our competent campaign.

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