Despite being a fairly calm week, I received a record 381 emails from 22 campaigns. They all sent 197 emails to my non-donor accounts, and the other 184 emails came from 19 campaigns reaching out to their donors. In this past week, Tim Ryan turned 46, the Apollo 11 moon landing turned 50, and we learned which candidates would be facing off against each other in the July debates.
Without a doubt, Tim Ryan was the champion of “Not able to take a hint and know when to stop talking” this week. At 20 emails, his name has cropped up more times than anyone else in my inbox, even though I never write back. Elizabeth Warren was the second-most prolific, sending 17 emails, followed by Joe Biden with 16 emails to those poor souls who threw some money his way. Nobody managed to hit an average of only 1 email a day, but 9 campaigns were calm enough to send fewer.
I’m not at all surprised to see that Thursday and Friday were the busiest days this week. Thursday night was when CNN broadcast their live debate draw, and every campaign was eager to tell me when they would be debating.
Well, most campaigns were eager.
Bill de Blasio and Tim Ryan still have not actually told me which night they will be on the debate stage. You’d think that would have been the first thing they let me know, so I could plan a watch party, but no, they both seem content with not keeping me up to date. Steve Bullock was also being a bit of a tease about this information, giving me a countdown (Just twelve days to go!) but not telling me which date he was counting down to. As a countdown via email means that I would have to check the date the email was sent, and then check the calendar, and then do some math… well, if I hadn’t been told by several other candidates (or watched the draw), I wouldn’t have bothered finding out. Thankfully, Bullock did realize his error and informed me on Saturday that he was in the July 30th debate.
If they weren’t talking about the debates, the candidates were eager to talk about money. Specifically, my money, and even more specifically, my money being given to them.
So many of the campaigns were looking at the released FEC numbers and finding themselves wanting. Surprisingly, the number 2 fundraiser, Bernie Sanders, seemed to be taking his numbers especially hard.
Sanders has been obsessed with his average donation. He has sent 4 emails this week about his average donation. On Sunday, he had massive concerns:
Now, the bad news: Our average donation so far this month is around $13, which is WAY lower than any other presidential campaign. And it’s less than half our $27 average from 2016.Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020
By Tuesday (after the FEC filings), he was fairly happy about it:
Never in the history of politics has a campaign raised so much money from so many individual contributions with such a low average donation ($19) as we have.Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020
But by Saturday he had decided $19 wasn’t enough:
Our average donation is $19, which is way less than the $27 average we had in 2016. So even though we have WAY more donations, we still raised less money than a few of our opponents.Team Bernie
Sanders’ $19 falls near the bottom of the spectrum announced by other candidates:
- Cory Booker’s average online donation was $15.11.
- Andrew Yang has an average donation of $21.98.
- Amy Klobuchar revealed her average online gift was $24.
- Elizabeth Warren has an average donation of $28.
- Beto O’Rourke has an average contribution of $30.
- Pete Buttigeg had an average (total campaign) donation of $47.42.
- Joe Biden had an average donation of $49.
(Do note that some candidates specified “online” gift.)
I find it interesting that Sanders is arguing his average gift is too low, even though a low average donation tends to indicate stronger grassroots support. Even as he jabs about other candidates taking big money, he also complains that his supporters haven’t given him enough.
It’s also worth noting that to be considered a “large” contributor for a Presidential campaign, you must give over $200. Many donors can switch from small to large simply by giving enough times, or buying enough campaign swag. It’s also worth noting that how the average donations were calculated was never mentioned by any of the campaigns. For example, Sanders says I’ve given $1 already, so can I give another $1 to help make his average donation better? But $1 is less than $19, so adding an extra $1 donation will actually drag his average donation down lower. Unless he’s adding the donations together and turning my $1 into a $2 donation? That would raise the average a small bit…
Numbers, man. They can tell you just about anything you want them to.
Speaking of numbers, these are the numbers of specific donations that the campaigns asked for. Kamala Harris was right up there with her usual ask of either $86 or nothing, with Joe Biden, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, and Jay Inslee also asking for big amounts when they did ask. Delaney was running a contest for his art with a minimum buy-in of $10, so that did raise his average quite a bit. On the other hand, some campaigns barely asked for anything at all. Joe Sestak and Tom Steyer both were more interested in $1 donations so they could hit the debate goal for September than anything else.
Bernie Sanders had the biggest donor goal this week, trying to reach 1 million donors before the debates. Last time he ran, he reached 1 million by the Iowa Caucus and set a new record. He’s hoping to shatter that record this year.
Most of the other candidates asking for donors were asking to hit the September goals. Sestak and Steyer, as mentioned earlier, were keen for their 130,000, but so too was Cory Booker, who has qualified for September already based on polling but not on donors. Other candidates, such as Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Steve Bullock, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Ryan, and Elizabeth Warren had much smaller goals, hoping to hit X number of donors in a week, or a night, or from an area. Julian Castro is on this chart as having a donor goal, but really, his goal was for petition signatures.
Quite a few candidates were expressing interest in events happening outside of their personal campaigns. Donations were requested for Congressional races, such as for Amy McGrath (going against Mitch McConnell), Jaime Harrison (going against Lindsey Graham), and The Squad’s re-election campaigns, especially that of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
Racism was a big topic of discussion among the candidates this week, with Trump’s horrible remarks and the ICE raids being called out as shameful and un-American. Jay Inslee, Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Tim Ryan, Pete Buttigieg, and Tulsi Gabbard all spoke out in one form or another about racism and oppression.
Much to my surprise, Joe Biden came forth with a relatively positive email that did not beg for Trump’s attention. Instead, he was praising the Democratic primary and held it up as a great way to get a talented, tested nominee ready to take on Trump.
In his very next email, though, Biden did ask me to pledge to vote for him in the primary, trying to lock in votes with half a year still to go, minimum. Because, at the end of the day, this is still a contest, and there can only be one winner.