Week 8: July 7-July 13

As weeks go in the world of political emails, Week 8 was fairly quiet. Only 300 emails in total came in, representing 24 different campaigns. 155 of those emails came from 22 non-donor lists, while the other 145 came from 21 donor lists. This week also had the only time since I began tracking emails that there were 26 active campaigns because Eric Swalwell was still active when the week began and Tom Steyer joined before the week ended.

You know that friend who only reaches out to you when they want something?

At 18 emails, Tim Ryan has definitely gone above and beyond his emaily duty. He’s been having a lot of panic this week about maybe not qualifying for the July debates. There are only TWO days left, after all, and god only knows what could happen in that time. Maybe Mike Gravel gets the polls he needs. Maybe Tom Steyer does! Maybe someone will tell Ryan he doesn’t actually belong at the big kids’ table! Regardless, he is going to relentlessly hammer his mailing list to prove that he really does have what it takes to be Presidential.

I will say this for Ryan, he’s at least trying not to beg. He’s been picking a theme and spamming emails about it: first his education reform plan, then his economy overhaul plan. He’s trying to provide actual content that I should be able to support and endorse with my money. He does change up his message, most of the time, presenting the same information in different-enough ways with every email that I’m not able to guess his story in advance with 80% accuracy the way I am with Julian Castro. Now, if only someone will teach him that less can be more.

As an aside, I’ve been working my way through the entire series of The West Wing. I just finished Season 6, which was set during the probably 2004 Democratic Primary. When talking about how their fundraising had dried up, the wife of the candidate goes “Wait, I thought we had a great online fundraising push!”

“Yeah,” the campaign manager agrees dismissively, “but that’s mostly $10 and $20 checks.”

Just over a decade later, candidates are clawing desperately for every $10 and $20 donation they can receive. Heck, they’re eager for $3 and $1 donations! My, how the world has changed…

(Sadly, that is about the ONLY thing that has changed politically. Well, that and the phones, and the way the Republicans in The West Wing were willing to, you know, govern.)

And speaking of checks, there was 1 candidate who actually came out and told me where I can mail a physical check to, and he actually gave me that information before giving me his online donation information.

You can contribute by check made out to “Joe Sestak for President” and mailed to Joe Sestak, PO Box 17246, Alexandria, VA 22302, or online at joesestak.com

Joe Sestak

He, uh, he does know he’s communicating to me via the Internet, right? I mean, yeah, a physical check doesn’t have the same processing fees that a credit card donation does, but… convenience?

There were quite a few Outside asks this week. Many were for monetary donations, with Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet, and Cory Booker suggesting I split a donation between them and Amy McGrath, who is running against Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Marianne Williamson asked me to give Mike Gravel a dollar so he can make it to the debates, and on Friday, he did actually qualify based on donors. I will be donating $1 to Gravel today because he has technically qualified even if he didn’t make the cutoff, and qualifying was the donation requirement for BTE.

Beto O’Rourke asked me to sign up for the Lights for Liberty vigils that were held last Friday, while Kamala Harris stepped outside her comfort zone. Rather than asking me to donate to herself, she asked me to donate to a group of organizations helping immigrants.

One of the best things we can all do right now is support the organizations doing the difficult work on the ground of protecting our immigrant communities.

If you’re able, please consider making a contribution today to groups doing critical work on the ground. Pitch in here to make a split contribution between National Immigration Law Center, The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, and United We Dream Action »

Your donation today will benefit the following organizations tirelessly fighting to bring justice to our immigrant communities:

National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of immigrants with low income. 

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights is a human rights organization that advocates for the rights and best interests of immigrant children from all corners of the world. 

United We Dream Action is the largest immigrant youth-led community in the country, committed to providing immigrant communities with reliable information and useful tools and advocating for immigration policy changes.

Kamala Harris

Harris’ email also included links to information to know what your rights are if ICE shows up at your door. She did try several different subject lines, sending “ICE is planning raids in cities across the country beginning Sunday. Know your rights.” to my donor account and “This email is about the ICE raids planned for Sunday. It is important.” to my non-donor account. Unfortunately, with all of the IMPORTANT!!! emails that get thrown around by political campaigns, including “Important” in a subject isn’t necessarily the best way to get someone to open your email when it really is important.

Harris wasn’t the only one warning about ICE raids. Cory Booker also sent out an email with information on what your rights are in the event of a raid. Unlike Harris, he actually included that information directly in the emails. Also unlike Harris, he only sent this to his donor list.

He also included information for people who are U.S. Citizens.

As a US Citizen, you have the ability to be an ally and advocate. Here’s how:

If ICE agents are seen in your community, ask who they are looking for and why.

Ask ICE agents if they have a warrant. If they detain someone, ask why and where they will be transferred to.

If you have an interaction with an ICE agent, record and write down all information including names, ID and badge numbers, license plates, and every detail that you remember.

If you have any questions or concerns, please, look to the ACLU guide here for more information.

Praying for all of those frightened by what’s to come tomorrow,

Cory Booker

What is happening with immigrants in this country is deplorable, and it’s proof that our voices and our votes matter more than ever before. People ask how Germany allowed the Nazis to take over in the lead-up to WWII.

This. This is how.

Percentages were about equal between donor and non-donor.

This week was slow, but the campaigns were expressing their anger with Trump. Some were just doing it as a matter of point, like Amy Klobuchar, who has been positioning herself as “Trump’s worst nightmare” ever since the debates.

Joe Biden didn’t attack Trump as much as Klobuchar did!

Joe Biden also attacked Trump left, right, and center as his way of connecting with me as a voter.

If you’re anything like us, you’ve felt less safe while Trump has been in office.

Every day, there is a new threat. He’s pushing away our allies and embracing our adversaries with open arms.

Team Joe

Though Biden has offered me several surveys about my priorities, he’s been making it exceptionally clear what his own priorities are. He even sent an email with the rather passive-aggressively-capitalized apology: “SORRY to email” in which he cried about how much money Trump had and how his campaign is going to fall short if I don’t help out.

Please note, this SORRY email was sent Saturday evening, while Harris and Booker were trying to protect me from Trump’s ICE raids.

As the week went on, more and more candidates grew upset at Trump, from Elizabeth Warren slipping jabs at Trump into the multiple plans she emailed me to Jay Inslee practically laughing at Trump’s face over his speech on his environmental accomplishments. Even notoriously positive Cory Booker called him out directly, declaring:

President Trump has repeatedly violated some of our core national values in pursuit of his aggressive, divisive, inhumane, and un-American immigration policies. Instead of uniting our nation, President Trump wants to pit Americans against one another by provoking fear and anger.

We are better than that, America.

Cory Booker

As mentioned earlier, both Booker and Harris denounced the ICE raids, while Michael Bennet and Julian Castro asked for signatures on their petitions to demand immigrants be treated fairly.

Meanwhile, Kirsten Gillibrand launched an attack ad on Trump, the first of the campaign cycle, she claims, and is on a three-state tour to point out all of Trump’s broken promises. While on this tour, she did give a phenomenal answer to a question about “so-called white privilege.” It was such a good answer, actually, that I’m suggesting all of you take 3 minutes to watch it here (link to CNN YouTube), even if you aren’t supporting Gillibrand. She demonstrates a great way of helping people understand what “white privilege” means even if you’re not feeling particularly privileged yourself.

Biden can’t help but be miserable because he focuses on a miserable man.

With Gillibrand’s fantastic answer, I wanted to talk a bit about tone. Not the Optimist/Pessimist tone from the chart above, but something I haven’t been tracking in charts: Spite vs. Hope.

There are many candidates choosing spite-based messaging, but there’s one in particular that stood out and made me start making a few notes on this. Michael Bennet is always telling me how much people are counting him out, and we need to prove them wrong. And this… irritated me.

Spite-motivated goals aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be very motivating, after all, to work hard to prove someone wrong. But at the same time, think about it more. If you are doing something out of spite, you are knowingly and deliberately trying to hurt someone else. Whether it’s just making them chafe a little bit at counting you out too early or trying to kick them out of their job, the core of spite is a negative act.

And yes, many of the spite-based messaging is towards “bad” people. We pretty much all agree we desperately want the current President to get fired. The media shouldn’t control the narrative as much as it does, and it’ll be good to prove them wrong. Rich people shouldn’t be able to buy elections, and we need to prove to them the power of the poor sorry, the power of the Grassroots Movement!

But it still creates an us-vs-them mentality. It still encourages a win through someone else’s pain. Joe Biden frequently tells me how badly we’re going to shake Donald Trump, how we’re going to make him cry and be unable to sleep at night (due to his AMAZING fundraising numbers). If he weren’t talking about Donald Trump, wouldn’t he just sound like a bully? Does the fact that it’s directed at Trump make it okay?

Hope-based messaging, on the other hand, is much harder to do right, and it’s much less motivating. There is no big bad evil guy to defeat or prove wrong. There’s often not even a concrete goal. The candidates who are managing hope-based messaging are doing so by trying to paint a picture of a better tomorrow and asking for help getting there. Surprisingly, Tim Ryan is running a fairly solidly hope-based campaign by pitching his ideas and asking me to give. Unfortunately for Ryan, he’s not very motivating on his own. Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, and Beto O’Rourke are doing much better on the hope-based messaging.

What about some of the other big names? Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, where do they stand on hope vs. spite?

Well, Sanders is absolutely a spiteful candidate:

But we can’t stop now. Because the rich folks above will do and spend whatever it takes to beat us.

Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020

Everything he says or does is about sticking it to those pesky rich people who hate him (and us). He makes it clear in every email he sends, right beneath the “Paid for by Bernie 2020” disclaimer.

This image is in EVERY SINGLE EMAIL.

Elizabeth Warren also leans toward spite. While she’s painting a hopeful picture of the future, she’s making it clear that there is An Enemy. Whether that’s Trump or Big Banks or Billionaires, there are still people to attack and cut down to size.

Kamala Harris is harder to pin down. Via her emails, at least, she’s not particularly hopeful or spiteful. She needs money so that she can have money to run her campaign to be President so things can be fixed. She’s running to beat Trump, but that’s not her main focus. She does talk a lot about running to reclaim America, so I suppose that would put her on a somewhat more hopeful side.

So, out of the five frontrunners, we have two spiteful (Sanders and Biden), one leaning spiteful (Warren), one leaning hopeful (Harris), and one hopeful (Buttigieg). I’m not all that surprised to find that this matches up pretty well with my personal ranking of the top five candidates.

Disclaimer: the hope vs spite is my personal view based solely on the emails I received. It has nothing to do with candidates’ performances in any interview or speech or article. I’m trying to judge them solely on what they themselves deliver straight into my inbox.

Mostly on Thursday

And for once, the email curve of the week actually seems to be following an expected curve straight into my inbox.

Should we take bets on who drops out next?

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, consider supporting me on Ko-Fi. But Their Emails! merch is also available on for purchase here!

2 thoughts on “Week 8: July 7-July 13

  1. I honestly don’t have an opinion on separate vs. combined charts for donor/non-donor emails. That’s mostly because I am not a “charts” person (though to the extent I do get something out of charts, I think I prefer bar charts to pie charts).

    I, too, was impressed with Gillibrand’s explanation of white privilege. Excellent job of casting it in a non-threatening light. There’s sort of a natural tendency to feel offended unless you understand what it actually means–which is not that you’re necessarily wielding it, even while you benefit from it (compared to those who don’t have it). IOW, it isn’t self-hating or -disparaging to acknowledge one’s own privilege. The response should not be to feel guilty for being white, but rather to recognize something is wrong with a system that rewards it, at the expense of those who are different.

    Thanks again for sparing me from having to subscribe to all these emails!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the chart feedback! I’ll keep it in mind moving forward: fewer new pie charts! It does mean that at least one person reads my captions, though. 🙂

      It’s hard to appreciate white privilege when you’re feeling like your life sucks, and everyone’s life around you sucks, regardless of skin color, so what sort of privilege are you seeing. Kirsten did a great job of removing white privilege from economic status and explaining that they are two very different issues.

      I think the candidates in general this cycle are doing a fantastic job with their messaging! I’m really pleased with our choices. This is going to be a great primary!

      Liked by 1 person

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