The Framework

In order to make this fair, I have established some rules. I will try my very best not to let my natural bias affect my write-ups… but I do frown VERY HEAVILY on those candidates who refuse to use any capital letters in their subject lines.

Updated October 23, 2019

To start, I have created a brand-new Gmail with no affiliations to anything else to sign up for all of the candidates’ mailing lists. I provided that email and my actual zip code and no further information. (In interest of full transparency, I also used that email to sign up for this blog [6/2: and the Ko-Fi account.]. Otherwise, I have not used it anywhere else.)

If a candidate’s email ends up in my Spam folder, I mark it as “Not Spam.” I open every candidate’s email and read it, then copy the contents into my spreadsheet. I have read some emails multiple times as I got my tracking system smoothed out. Other than that, I do not interact with the emails. I do not click links. I do not sign petitions. I do not donate (even though some of the candidates have the sad puppy feel down pat). [10/23: I try not to interact. I have occasionally misclicked, but I immediately close anything that opens. If I donate through an express link, I have the donation refunded.]

I am tracking a very large handful of different qualities and will be discussing ones I feel are pertinent as the emails flood in.

NOTE: Signature blocks that do not change email-to-email are not counted for any of this tracking information. If every email has the same DONATE button at the bottom, it is not an ask to donate. However, if the campaign draws attention to it or attempts to be cutesy about it (e.g. P.S. Click below to donate!), it will be counted for that email. [10/23: To clarify, if an email has donation buttons BELOW the signature and does not have further email text, I do not count those as part of the “average donation asked for” calculations.]


  • Initial Inbox
    • Primary
    • Promotions
    • Spam
  • Time
    • Date
    • Day of week
    • Time of day
      • Morning: 12:00 AM EST – 10:59 AM EST
      • Midday: 11:00 AM EST – 4:59 PM EST
      • Evening: 5:00 PM EST – 8:59 PM EST
      • Night: 9:00 PM EST – 11:59 PM EST
  • Subject
  • Content
  • Author
    • Candidate
    • Staff/Team (if an email is unsigned, I count it as Staff/Team)
    • Family of Candidate
    • Friend of Candidate
    • Celebrity [10/23: For Rosario Dawson, she is counted as “Family” for Cory Booker and “Celebrity” for anyone else.]
    • Other [10/23: Contest winners and supporters not working for the campaign or clearly a candidate’s friend outside the campaign are counted as “other”]
  • How I’m referenced (I did not provide my name or a pseudonym to any campaign [10/23: All donor emails have my real name.])
    • Friend
    • Team
    • Folks
    • Siblings [10/23: To clarify: Brothers and sisters! Sisters and brothers!]
    • Candidate supporters, e.g. Marianne Supporters, Team Pete, Yang Gang. [10/23: Added]
    • Y’all [10/23: Added]
    • All [10/23: Added]
    • Name [10/23: Added]
    • Nothing
  • Average of Requested Donation
    • A donation average of $0 either means the candidate did not ask or did not specify an amount in their email.
    • If donations are requested multiple times, every time a dollar amount is mentioned, it is counted toward the average.
  • Deadline for donations
    • This is a yes/no box on my sheet.
    • Yes means the deadline meets two requirements
      1. A specific end-time is given
      2. A specific goal is given
    • Deadline examples:
      • Will you help us reach $500,000 by the end of May?
      • Will you help us hit 9,000 new donors by Friday?
    • Not-Deadline examples:
      • Can you rush a donation of $15 today?
      • We need 65,000 donors to qualify for the debates!
    • 6/2: If a Donor or Money goal is given, I note the amount.
  • 10/23: Donation Status
    • Behind: We are behind our goal/we need to close the gap
    • Missed: We did not achieve our goal
    • Made: We made our goal
    • Surpassed: We smashed our goal/blew past our goal/exceeded our goal.
  • Call to Action/Ask
    • Donate: Give money to the campaign, possibly for a bribe like free merch or a phone call
    • Share: Follow and/or share on social media
    • Volunteer: Sign up to do something for the campaign or to put your name on a campaign list
    • Petition: Put your name on a list with a specific purpose that is not just to provide contact information for the campaign
    • Watch: View some form of media, usually video, occasionally article, sometimes view an appearance that has not occurred yet
    • Merch: Buy merch from the campaign store
    • Forward: Forward the email to friends and family without mention of social media
    • Survey: Answer questions to inform the campaign
    • Info: No ask, just providing information
    • Outside: Do something (usually donate) to a cause outside of the campaign.
    • Other: An unusual request that does not fit in to the others (Sign this birthday card!)
  • 10/23: Impeach – if the candidate is talking specifically about their support for impeaching Donald Trump, they get a mark.
  • 10/23: Rhetorical Devices
    • Ask/Explain: Some form of stating “I’m about to ask you for money, but first let me explain.” Must specifically say they are EXPLAINING before ASKING.
    • Backstory: Talking about any aspect of their backstory that does not immediately pertain to a policy or campaign interaction.
    • First/Then/Now: Uses the words or very similar words “First…” “Then…” “Now…” (or “And then…” or “moving forward…” or anything in this vein)
    • Good/Bad News: Specifically calling out good and bad news
    • Humble: Using some form of the word “humble.”
    • Keep it short: Any use of words to indicate they are trying to keep the email short or make it quick/get straight to the point.
    • Truth/Honesty: Any use of words to indicate “the truth is…” “Let me be honest…” “to be completely transparent…” Anything directly indicating what is about to be said should be believed.
    • Sorry: Any form of apology
    • Thank You: If an email says “Thank you” in either the subject or the body of the email. BOTH words must be used (“thanks” is casual, “I appreciate it/I’m grateful for” is not specific enough), and it cannot be the last thing written before the signature. Many campaigns do say thanks or express gratitude, but I’m counting the ones who specifically take the time to give a sincere “thank you.”
    • Top Supporter: If I’m called a top supporter/strongest supporter/most dedicated supporter. Again, I’ve given $1. If that’s top, I pity the campaign.

There are some other, more nebulous aspects to these emails I am trying to track. This is where my bias can really shine, as these are how I feel the email is coming across.


  • Topic: Sometimes it’s really hard to tell if a message counts as a campaign update or fluff.
    • 6/2: Welcome: Welcoming or thanking me for joining the campaign and providing an overview
    • Campaign Event: Information about where the candidate has been/is going (not media-related). May or may not include statistics about hands shaken.
    • News Event: A direct response to a non-campaign event occurring. Frequently include candidates appearing at protests or strikes or protesting restrictive laws.
    • Media Appearance: A reference to an appearance that has just occurred or will occur of the candidate in media. Usually referencing a show, rarely referencing an article or magazine cover.
    • Policy: A discussion on what the candidate will do in office.
    • 6/2: Repeat: If part or all of the email has hit my inbox before word-for-word, it’s a repeat in addition to the other topics.
    • 6/2: Fundraising: If the email is asking specifically for money to hit a deadline or goal, or if it mentions fundraising, it counts as a fundraising email.
    • None: A “fluff” piece that is either biographical about the candidate or not promoting the candidate’s message. 6/2: All fundraising emails that do not include other content go here.
  • Negativity: A HUGE warning for this one: negativity can be as mild as a snide comment (They have easy money. Good for them) or mentioning an attack (Republicans are attacking women’s rights). An email can be marked for negativity without being openly hostile.
    • D-Neg: Disparaging toward other Democratic candidates, whether specifically or in general.
    • R-Neg: Disparaging toward not-Trump Republicans, whether or not they are in the race.
    • None: No negativity toward other people (can still be negative toward issues, events, facts, etc., but does not target people)
  • Trump: This cannot be a Presidential campaign without mention of the current President. Unfortunately.
    • Trump: Trump is called out by name for doing something other than campaigning for/existing as President.
      • Not a Trump reference for these purposes:
        • …to defeat Trump…
        • …Trump’s war chest…
        • …Trump state…
      • Trump references for these purposes:
        • Trump wasn’t happy with what I said…
        • I’m bringing a case against Trump…
        • Trump’s latest speech was atrocious…
    • Referenced: The current President is mentioned but not by name, for doing something other than campaigning for/existing as President.
    • None: No mention of the current guy.
  • Tone: Perhaps the hardest of them all…
    • Optimistic: The campaign is hopeful and upbeat about its future. Maybe they’re full of anger and zest at the injustices of the world, but they’re seeing a path. [6/2: The campaign is using language about looking forward, building, creating, empowering… positive and additive language. When in doubt, I usually default to this.] The campaign wanting to fight for something or mentioning an appearance or a good poll is an optimistic thing.
    • Pessimistic: The campaign is struggling or having doubts. Warnings of budget cuts or not making deadlines or not qualifying for a debate count as pessimistic.
    • Mixed: The campaign is open and frank about both the ups and downs, or they’re at least trying to spin some ups out of a down situation. Both good and bad news are present.
    • Neutral: It’s really hard to say if the campaign is hopeful or just trying to squeak along. [6/2: When in doubt, I default to this.]

At the moment, those are all the factors I’m tracking. More may be added as emails continue to flood my inbox, and if there’s anything specific you want to see, let me know!

4 thoughts on “The Framework

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