Day 17: 6/6/19

16 campaigns sent 25 emails on Thursday. While most of them (18) referenced the debates or DNC debate rules in one way or another, there were a handful of outliers.

Julian Castro has really been backing off the harassment!

Only Tim Ryan sent 3 emails today, though 7 other campaigns sent multiple emails. Half of the campaigns restrained themselves to just 1 email today, including the relatively quiet Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson.

Neither of Bernie Sanders’ emails referenced the debates. One email was offering me the last chance for a free sticker, while his first lashed out at Joe Biden for having a finance committee and being difficult to keep up with fundraising-wise.

Our campaign doesn’t have a finance committee. And we don’t have millionaires and billionaires organizing their wealthy friends in support of Bernie.

Instead, there are hundreds of thousands of supporters who are contributing to power our movement across the country.

But the truth is that it won’t be easy to keep pace with Joe Biden’s fundraising. And we can’t risk falling too far behind – especially with an FEC deadline coming up this month.

I was initially very skeptical of the wording of this email. Sanders doesn’t have a finance committee? Then who is managing his finances? I had to do some Googling to understand why Biden’s finance committee was so horrible in Sanders’ view: it’s really more of a fundraising “club,” where your club title is dependent on how much money you bring in. For all of these grassroots-only campaigns, I can definitely see the upset. (I can also see the similarities to a MLM-scheme…)

Marianne Williamson, on the other hand, went for a history lesson about D-Day. After over 400 words about the Greatest Generation and their fears but determination and prayers afterwards, she followed up her history lesson with an ask for donations. I was struck by both the similarity to some other campaigns’ Memorial Day emails and the sheer tonedeafness that came with jumping from a tribute to a deadly invasion to shilling for money.

In honor of those who came before us, let us in our time rise up and do what is ours to do. May those who lost their lives that day, and those who fought with them, be forever blessed.

My best,

Can you donate today?

Our entire campaign is fueled by small donations, and it’s working.

On a positive note, her donation buttons were all bright blue this time, so her eye-burning rainbow earlier really was just a Pride tribute.

Elizabeth Warren also wasn’t interested in talking about the debates. Instead, she upped her game from possibly getting a thank-you phone call if you donate to possibly winning a chance to be flown out to grab a beer (or whatever else you’d like) with her. She really is taking the “would you want to have a beer with them?” metric to heart.

Andrew Yang, on the other hand, was super excited about CNN’s Chris Cilizza profiling the Yang campaign and CNN moving it into their top ten, officially making it a top tier campaign. He provided a link to the Cilizza spot and asked for a $10 donation in honor of this moment, which is actually down from his usual ask of $20.

The most unsettling non-debate emails of the day, though, came from Joe Biden. He began around 1 pm asking for donations to defeat Trump. To put Trump in notice. To take on Donald Trump. In a short fundraising email of just 213 words, Biden mentioned Trump 6 times, plus 1 more in the subject.

He only mentioned his own name 5 times, including the signature and URL of his donation page.

While obviously, the Democratic focus is on defeating Donald Trump this cycle, Biden’s attacks are bordering on obsessive. Out of 32 emails from the Biden campaign, 11, or nearly 33%, are lashing out at Trump.

More problematic than his assault on Trump is Biden’s inability to be firm. Yesterday, Biden underlined that for me with an email about the Hyde Amendment.

Very briefly: The Hyde Amendment refers to legislation banning federal funds such as Medicare or Medicaid from being used for abortions. Biden had been on the record for supporting the Hyde Amendment. On May 19th, he was asked about it by an ACLU activist and told her he would repeal it.

On June 5th, his campaign walked back that statement by claiming he had misheard the question and was in fact referencing the Mexico City rule, which prohibited federal funds from being given to organizations overseas that perform abortions, and said that Biden had not changed his view on the Hyde Amendment.

On June 6th, after much backlash from his fellow Democratic competitors and women’s rights groups, Biden sent out an email with the following language:

That’s why Joe Biden said tonight that he can no longer support an amendment that makes the right to health care dependent on someone’s zip code.
We cannot leave millions of people without access to the care they need, or the ability to exercise a constitutionally protected right to choose.

In the course of one month, Biden was strongly for, strongly against, strongly for, and strongly against the Hyde Amendment, and that flip-flopping has me concerned.

I do not use the term “flip-flopping” lightly. I am a firm believer in people allowing their beliefs to grow and develop, especially when exposed to differing opinions, especially when becoming more educated on situations, and especially over the course of 40+ years in politics. I am not upset about politicians who have grown and changed their views over their long careers. I am also not upset if a politician has different personal and public opinions, so long as their public opinions are what they vote on and are in line with the majority of their constituents’ opinions. However, a personal conviction cannot and should not change overnight. It should be held strongly enough to at least warrant some serious thought and deliberation.

Our current president has very few convictions, and none on anything resembling policy. What he says one day will almost certainly be different the next. After these years of uncertainty and instability, I know I, at least, am searching for a President who says what they mean and means what they say, and not a President who will change their mind if the heat turns up. At this point in this crowded campaign field, we can afford to be picky. We can afford to hold our candidates to elevated standards and not merely settle on something distasteful but familiar.

On a lighter note, I have a new chart to share with you!

Castro is closest to the total average ask. I wonder if it’s because he’s asked so much!

This chart is tracking the average ask from each campaign since the start of BTE. As a reminder from The Framework, if a campaign does not specify an amount to donate or does not ask for a donation at all, they get a 0. Bill de Blasio, for example, has asked for $1 in 5 emails and did not ask for a donation in his sixth, giving him an average overall ask of $0.83.

Many campaigns use ActBlue to generate a grid of donation buttons. There seems to be a “standard” range of $5, $25, $50, $100, $250, and Other, which gives an average ask of $86, which I’ve drawn with the yellow line at the top. Many campaigns tweak these values, with most offering a $1 option and some offering odd numbers like $20.20 (for the election year) or $23.36 (the average donation for Amy Klobuchar’s campaign). The average ask of everybody overall is indicated by the dark purple line, and it currently stands at $18.60.

A campaign with no number on this chart has never emailed me. But only 1 campaign has emailed me and never asked for money.

Pete Buttigieg has sent me 3 emails since I began tracking. First, he went over the values his campaign would adhere to, such as honesty, respect, and joy. His second email was topical, discussing how American-issued tariffs hurt Americans, not the countries they’re levied against. His third email, on Thursday, was from his National Organizing Director looking for volunteers to host debate watch parties. I have to admit, I’m very intrigued by this no-money-ask approach, and I’m eager to see what the FEC Q2 filings reveal.

Lately, every time Buttigieg emails me, Williamson emails me shortly after.

2 thoughts on “Day 17: 6/6/19

  1. Thanks for the links! I’m not sure how to feel about it either. Clearly, it’s the way big money is brought in, and I suppose it makes sense for candidates to delegate fundraising to people who have those connections. Being able to buy their time is a bit ehhh though.

    I think I’m going to have to pull out the FEC filings and start seeing if I understand them. That may need to be something brought into this blog.


  2. Re: Joe Biden’s “finance committee”, I’m not sure how to feel about it. Pete is doing something similar (maybe that’s why he doesn’t have to shake down his email list for money constantly!) Not sure if links work in comments, but here’s one about Pete’s bundler program

    And this probably doesn’t surprise anyone, but Trump has a similar setup


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