Signing Up…

Every good story starts at the beginning, and this is no exception. Unusually politically motivated, I ended up on the mailing lists of at least two Democratic presidential candidates for 2020. The tone, volume, and message of the lists could not be more different. And like the list-loving nerd that I am, I started to wonder about the others…

The 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary is already crowded. As of the time of this writing, 24 nominees have thrown their hats into the ring.

And I’m on all their mailing lists…

To get on their mailing lists, I first had to find their websites. Simple enough, right? You’d think an easy-to-find online presence would be step one of any modern campaign.

For most candidates, it was. I’d type their name into an incognito Google search and see if their website was on the first page. Twenty of the twenty-four candidates (83%) were easy to find this way (page rank beside, with a / indicating multiple listings):

  • Bill de Blasio (Ad)
  • Cory Booker (Ad/1)
  • Pete Buttigieg (1/3)
  • Julian Castro (3)
  • John Delaney (1)
  • Tulsi Gabbard (1)
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (4)
  • Mike Gravel (3)
  • Kamala Harris (1)
  • John Hickenlooper (Ad/2)
  • Jay Inslee (Ad/2)
  • Amy Klobuchar (Ad)
  • Seth Moulton (1)
  • Beto O’Rourke (Ad/3)
  • Tim Ryan (Ad/5)
  • Bernie Sanders (1)
  • Eric Swalwell (4)
  • Elizabeth Warren (Ad/2)
  • Marianne Williamson (4)*
  • Andrew Yang (1)

* Marianne had her book page as the #1 result, leading to some possible confusion.

Eight out of the twenty-four candidates (33%) went the easy route and had an ad linking directly to their website as the first result. Six of them also had their website appear in the results (in bold).

  • Bill de Blasio
  • Cory Booker
  • John Hickenlooper
  • Jay Inslee
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Beto O’Rourke
  • Tim Ryan
  • Elizabeth Warren

Four of the twenty-four (17%) had an ad to their ActBlue donation page when just their name was searched. Two of them also had their website appear in the results (in bold).

  • Michael Bennet
  • Steve Bullock
  • Kamala Harris
  • Seth Moulton

Four candidates’ websites did not show up in the first search, and that is where things started to get interesting…

For all candidates, I tried the same list of searches on the same order until I found their website:

  1. [NAME]
  2. [NAME] 2020
  3. [NAME] 2020 website
  4. [NAME] 2020 campaign website
  5. [NAME] president
  6. [NAME] 2020 president
  7. [NAME] 2020 president campaign
  8. [NAME] 2020 president campaign website

If I went through all 8 searches with no website, I tried [NAME].com.

Michael Bennet had his ActBlue donation page as an ad for every search, but his campaign website never appeared in the search results.

Joe Biden had a smear website disguised as his campaign page turn up on search 3. His actual campaign website turned up on search 4 as the second result.

Steve Bullock had his ActBlue donation page as an ad for every result…but on search 2, the second ad was for Cory Booker’s website, and on search 3, Booker’s ad was first, above Bullock’s own ad. Bullock’s website never appeared in the search results.

Wayne Messam had neither ads nor results for his website. Thankfully, typing in WayneMessam.com redirected to his website, WayneforUSA. His campaign, however, is named Wayne for America.

Once I got to the website, I signed up for their mailing list with a brand new virgin Gmail just for this experiment. I provided my email and my zip code and nothing else, no matter how politely they asked. And away we went!

One thought on “Signing Up…

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