Over the weekend, Tim Ryan figured out how targeted emails works, Jay Inslee went full super hero, and Joe Biden was exaggerating his difficulties.
With the Iowa State Fair starting last week, the candidates all descended on the state and left a trail of emails in their wake. Tim Ryan, eager to get back on the trail, sent out 5 emails over the weekend, along with Cory Booker and Michael Bennet. Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris restrained themselves to just 4 emails apiece.
The majority of the emails came in on Saturday, but there were still a hefty amount on Sunday. With the deadline for the fall debates looming, the candidates who hadn’t yet qualified were feeling the pinch. Many of them were asking for money and they weren’t shy about who they asked.
Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar have always been good about changing their asks for their donors vs. their non-donors. Bill de Blasio has been doing the same in the past few weeks, asking for $25 from donors and $1 from non-donors. The real surprise of this chart is Tim Ryan. For months, Ryan sent exactly the same email to donors and non-donors. He was one of the few who couldn’t seem to understand how to send targeted emails. And then, just this past week, something clicked! He started asking me for $3 as a non-donor and $10 as a donor. I was so proud of him!
On the side who asked for more from their non-donors, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren sent different emails to donors and non-donors. With Buttigieg, he sent an email saying I could donate anything, even $1, to non-donors only. With Warren, she asked if I’d be on her grassroots wall with suggested donations as a non-donor, but just gave me GIFs as a donor. And Michael Bennet sent an extra email to his donors with a lower average monetary ask, which changed his numbers.
Yesterday, I wrote about how campaigns were ramping up their sticker giveaways, but on Sunday, Kirsten Gillibrand gave the best incentive yet: donate anything and get a Gillibrand 2020 t-shirt.
It’s definitely a sign of desperation.
For a campaign flush with cash, like Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg or even Tom Steyer to give away merch at a loss, it could be seen as an investment in building the brand or goodwill. For Gillibrand, whose campaign has constantly failed to meet fundraising deadlines, it is a last-ditch effort to pull in the approximately 30,000 new donors she needs before August 28 to qualify for the fall debates. Unfortunately for Gillibrand, she’s also struggling with the polling requirement. For the fall, both polling and donor numbers need to be there.
Steve Bullock, Elizabeth Warren, and Jay Inslee are also shilling their merch, with all of them sending ads to their stores into my inbox. Bullock is just excited that he has stickers to sell, while Warren is suggesting yard signs, window signs, or bumper stickers. Inslee has launched his new “Specs” design as t-shirts and buttons in addition to the stickers from yesterday, and he’s gone full super hero with his announcement:
The candidates weren’t just trying to bribe me with stickers to get donations. Some resorted to puns–Pete Buttigieg reminded me of his pizza with Pete contest, now the Pete-za contest–and some offered GIFs.
And still others opted for “the truth.” Namely that they were falling behind and needed my help. Some were issuing more dire proclamations than others.
Cory Booker just stated facts: they were behind.
Jenna, our deputy campaign manager, has kept me updated on our grassroots fundraising. She told me that yesterday we fell $10,227 short of our goal. If we want to reach $350,000 by August 15th, we need to raise $160,000 by midnight tonight.Cory Booker
Kamala Harris warned me that Trump and others are hoping for her to slip up.
Here is the truth: we have gotten off to a rough start when it comes to fundraising this month. August is a notoriously difficult time for fundraising, and honestly, it’s been worse than we expected.
So many of our opponents, especially Donald Trump, are hoping we slip up this summer. If we make a mistake and cannot sustain our momentum, it jeopardizes our chance to win.
We can’t let up and give them that satisfaction, or endanger the incredible progress our grassroots team has made in this race. What we’ve done in past situations like this is to ask our supporters — that’s you — to chip in whatever you can to get us back on track.
Can you make a contribution to our campaign today? It could be the difference between overcoming our August fundraising slump and powering our campaign through this primary next year. I know I can count on you.Kamala Harris
However, the true “sky is falling” cry came from Joe Biden.
Look, August is often when we make funding decisions that affect our entire campaign.
So, after looking at the books, I wanted to be transparent with all of you. Because we are behind on our fundraising, we need to cut our ads budget.
We’re running a campaign that values digital engagement. We’re investing in online advertisements to engage new voters and tell them about Joe Biden. We know it’s a good strategy to win.
But here’s the truth: We’re completely out of money for our August ad budget.
So now, I’m coming to you for help: Can you chip in so we can fully fund our budget? Even $5 helps keep us going:
Our ads program is critical to reaching and persuading voters.
And we’re not the only ones investing heavily in ads of all types — some of our opponents are already starting to air television ads in Iowa!Patrick Bonsignore, Director of Digital Advertising, Biden for President
In addition to being completely out of money, he included an odd set of buttons for his donor ask. Instead of the usual spread of $5/$25/$50/$100/$250/Other, he asked for $5/$35/$50/$50/$100/Other. Did the $250 lose its 2, or was that a deliberate button choice?
Regardless, let’s take a look at what I’m getting from that Biden email.
“We didn’t budget for a critical part of our campaign.”
I call B.S. If it’s a good strategy that is considered highly valuable and critical to bringing in voters, there is no way it should be out of money just 11 days into the month. Not when the campaign pulled in the second highest fundraising amount of Q2. Either it’s not that important (digital advertising is these days), it’s not out of money (my best guess), or the campaign is critically incompetent at managing money.
And if the campaign isn’t out of advertising money, then Biden is lying to his supporters to manipulate them into giving him money.
Or he’s critically incompetent at managing money.
Either way, it’s a lose-lose for the Biden campaign. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for Biden, very few people read political emails and analyze them, so no one will give this declaration any attention. It’s the same with Julian Castro’s fear tactics. Politicians can get away with just about everything in their political emails. If Biden here wasn’t a politician, and your grandmother got an email from a public figure saying he needed her help because his charity is unable to advertise, and she sent him $50, wouldn’t you get mad at him for scamming her out of her money?
So why are we tolerating this behavior?