Week 13: August 11-August 17

Week 13 marks the 100th post on But Their Emails! I need to give huge kudos to Tirra, who designed my logo and managed to pull it straight out of my brain, and BroadCityChessClub who suggested the name. For the 100th post, I thought I’d give you a fun fact: the original Twitter handle I got when I signed up for this blog was @their_but. I decided to change it for… reasons.

But it did make me laugh.

In Week 13, John Hickenlooper dropped out, Kamala Harris really wants money, and Beto O’Rourke has a heart.

Hickenlooper sent 4 emails: 2 donor and 2 non.

At 16 donor emails, Kamala Harris wins busiest bee of the week, followed by Joe Biden and Cory Booker at 15 each and Elizabeth Warren with 14.

I really don’t know why I still count Wayne Messam and Seth Moulton, other than the fact that they still haven’t dropped out. I just checked their Twitters: they’re still on the trail. Moulton was even at the Iowa State Fair this past week.

This is my favorite chart of the weekly recap charts because rainbow.

It’s occurred to me that I’m probably using some of these charts wrong. The above chart, for example, could be a pie chart because they add up to 100%, whereas the Ask chart really shouldn’t be a pie chart because there might be multiple asks in the same email.

Yes, it has taken me 100 posts to figure this out. Always own up to your mistakes!

I’m not actually sure if this is any better…

Let me know which version you prefer.

In the meantime, Thursday was the busiest day, with 54 emails, followed by Tuesday with 53 and Saturday with 52. The spread was fairly even across the week, though the end of the week did have more activity.

No Other asks this week.

As with the Day of Week chart above, I’ll offer you two versions of the Ask chart. Let me know which one you like!

Donation is overwhelming no matter how you look at it.

Without question, this has been a week for raising money. Whether it was for a fundraising push, a donor push, or to fund ad campaigns, all of the campaigns who emailed sent at least one asking for money.

Most campaigns sent emails asking for nothing but money.

The full bar is how many emails they sent in total, the green part is how many had no other ask.

There were some complaints earlier in the week about how many fundraising emails Pete Buttigieg had sent. I complained about 3 back to back, and I saw on Twitter many of my followers were also starting to rankle. I threw this chart together to see how overwhelming his fundraising was this week and was a bit surprised at the results.

For starters, defining a “pure” fundraising email was hard. I tried to begin with emails that asked solely for me to give the campaign money for no reason, but those actually weren’t really existent. Most campaigns at least put a thin veneer of need over their asks. But then if asking to raise money to stand out at the debates, like Cory Booker did, was considered fundraising, wouldn’t asking for money to stand at the debates count? And if raising money to get to the debates counts, wouldn’t raising money for an ad campaign also count?

In the end, I decided a campaign that was holding a contest (Pizza with Pete Buttigieg, debate night with Joe Biden) did not count as fundraising. Campaigns asking “if you agree with what the candidate says, donate!” did not count as fundraising. Campaigns that had a donate button but did not come out and ask you to click it did not count as fundraising. Campaigns that asked for a donation to get merch did not count as fundraising, but campaigns that offered merch as a thank you gift for donating did count (basically, Michael Bennet’s book wasn’t fundraising because it was trying to raise awareness of the Russian hacking in addition to raising money for Bennet, while Jay Inslee offering a sticker or membership card or Kirsten Gillibrand offering a t-shirt was fundraising because the idea was specifically to raise money.)

Plenty of campaigns were actually talking about their campaigns

This did change the counts from the Fundraising topic, but that’s largely due to the debates: money being raised for the debates gets counted as a Debate topic instead of a Fundraising topic.

It was very interesting to see that while a lot of campaigns ended up around a 50/50 split (and remember, all numbers should be roughly halved for donor vs non-donor emails), only 2 weren’t flat-out asking for money (Bill de Blasio was asking me not to underestimate him [or more accurately, not to underestimate his wife] or asking me to donate if I liked his appearance on The Daily Show, and Marianne Williamson… is difficult to tell what she’s asking for, except that she includes donation buttons.), and a handful had more than a 2:1 split. Kamala Harris had 25 “pure” fundraising emails in this past week, which was more than most campaigns had emails at all.

When Joe Biden wasn’t asking me for money, he was asking me to sign petitions:

  • Protect Medicare and Medicaid! (I was unaware they were under attack…)
  • Save the Endangered Species Act!
  • Ban assault weapons on the street!

Biden wasn’t the only one with petitions for me this week. I was also asked to sign on for:

  • Investing in rural America (policy by Elizabeth Warren, did I agree?)
  • Bernie Sanders (no real drive other than sign my name to say I supported Sanders. Twice.)
  • Repairing trust in the government (policy by Andrew Yang, did I agree?)
  • Combating white supremacy and racism (policy by Cory Booker, did I agree?)
  • Tom Steyer (like Sanders, only asking me to sign my name to show my support)

Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were touting their apps today. Sanders has BERN, and Warren has Reach. Both apps are designed to track interactions with potential voters. BERN seems to be more focused on things like phone banking, while Reach is so if you have a conversation with a potential voter about Warren, you can make a note of it and then the campaign will reach out to that person with more information. On the one hand, that’s a clever way for the campaign to grow its support.

On the other hand, if I ended up getting spammed by Warren’s campaign because my coworker talked to me about it, I would not be happy with both the campaign and my coworker. Warren’s campaign is definitely one of the more email-happy campaigns too, number 4 overall.

Candidates with the same age are listed in alphabetical order by surname.

While two of the oldest candidates, Sanders and Warren, are pushing their apps out, one candidate, Joe Sestak, is proud to be campaigning the old-fashioned way.

Part of another super-long “Cup of Joe” emails that can’t be copy/pasted.

I’m not sure if this is typical in Iowa or not, but it’s the 21st century, Sestak. Is paper really the best way to go?

At least he stopped asking me to write paper checks. In this campaign cycle, though, age seems to be an important factor. Both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are trying to convince the electorate that they aren’t too old to govern (remember, the ages above are how old the candidates are right now. Add 2 for 2021, when they take office, and add another 4 on top of that, for 2025, when their first term would end. Ages would range from 43 to 83.), and the younger candidates are trying to convince the electorate that it’s time for a new generation to step up and fix the mess. I’m not sold that “old-fashioned” is what you want your campaign to feel like.

One candidate who is doing old-school the right way is Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard is one of 4 candidates in the field who have military experience: Tulsi Gabbard, Pete Buttigieg, Seth Moulton, and Joe Sestak. Military experience used to be expected of Presidential candidates, but now it seems like an exciting spice.

Buttigieg was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2017. Moulton was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2008. Sestak retired from the U.S. Navy in 2005.

Gabbard is still in active service in the Hawaii National Guard, and she announced this week that she was putting her campaigning on hold while shipping out for two weeks of active duty training in Indonesia. Her campaign is continuing without her, promoting her motto “Service above self” and encouraging people to make personalized videos and share them on social media explaining why they are voting for Gabbard.

Other email events this past week included Bernie Sanders sending a long email about media consolidation and Michael Bennet pushing his new book about the Russian hacking, both with bobblehead GIFs and more seriously. Amy Klobuchar’s daughter asked for donations for her mother, while Beto O’Rourke was relaunching his campaign for the second time. Tom Steyer qualified for the debates on donor numbers, which upset most of the other candidates, though none quite so much as Steve Bullock, who ranted directly at Steyer, or Julian Castro, who ranted about not being born a front runner with the luxury of spending millions on his campaign.

Cory Booker and Joe Biden were both offering 10%-off end-of-summer sales on their merch stores (SUMMER for Booker and AVIATORS10 for Biden)

There were also a handful of requests for donations outside the campaigns this past week, though 3 of them were all the same. “Split a donation between me and J.D. Scholten.” Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, and Kirsten Gillibrand all had that ask, explaining that Scholten was running against U.S. Representative Steve King of Iowa. King had been in the news recently for some incredibly vile statements around rape and incest.

Cory Booker actually put a content warning on his email in which he discussed King’s statements and why Scholten will win this time.

The only campaign to email about the horrific ICE raids in Mississippi last week, the only campaign, was Beto O’Rourke’s. His was the only campaign to address them when they happened, in an email on August 9, and he was the only candidate to follow-up. O’Rourke actually went to Mississippi and talked to victims of the raids and those affected by them. The stories were heartbreaking:

In Canton, a small community about a half hour outside of Jackson, I met with about 25 women, a couple of men and their very young children. The women are undocumented. Most of the kids are U.S. citizens. Their husbands were all apprehended in the ICE raid and they now have no idea when or if they are going to see them again. They also don’t know how they’re going to pay the rent, afford an attorney, or pay for school supplies. Of those needs, money for rent is most important. All of them mentioned it repeatedly.

An amazing local store owner seems to be the hub of the immigrant community — everyone trusts her, everyone looks to her for help. It was in her store that I met with the affected families. 

One woman, wearing an ankle monitor or grillete said to me, “We have never been a burden. Some people claim that immigrants take public services. I’ve never taken assistance or help in my life. I came here to work, and every day I work. My husband works the night shift, I work the day shift. Now that he’s detained and I’m not working, I have nothing, no way to support my family. I don’t want anyone’s help, I just want to work.”

A young woman, 18 years old, told me about her parents. She told me that they luckily both left the chicken processing plant just before the raid took place. She started to cry when she told me that they are still working, because they have no other choice. She told me she was crying because she doesn’t know if one day when she’s at school she’ll come home to find that they’re gone. They’ve lived here and worked here for her whole life, they’ve raised a strong, smart, caring woman — a U.S. citizen, someone who should be able to focus on her studies, her career, her future instead of worrying about whether her parents will be deported for the crime of working in a chicken processing plant for $12 an hour.  

Nearly 700 families were broken up in these raids. Hardworking, family-focused people.

I went to the home of a young woman who lived on the outskirts of town. She used to sell tamales to the workers at the chicken processing plant. She arrived in this country four years ago seeking asylum, and has been wearing an ankle monitor ever since. It’s heavy, gets hot, irritates her skin, but she’s had it on every day for four years. She’s raising four beautiful children, the oldest of which sometimes helps her to sell tamales. Now that that the immigrants have been rounded up and are no longer working in the chicken processing plants there’s no one to buy the tamales. 

She’s worried that she’ll be deported back to Guatemala or, with no income and no ability to pay the rent, that she will have no other choice but to return. She showed us her scars from stab wounds she suffered when she lived there, and said she had received a call recently from a gang leader in Guatemala who told her that her husband had been murdered for outstanding debts and that the gang wanted her children as additional payment. She is certain that if she returns she will lose them. 

We went to a Catholic church in Forest that was providing help for families torn apart by these recent raids. In addition to the priest and nuns who were tending to the children, there were a number of attorneys from Arizona who had flown in to provide free legal help to the families. They were also helping to take care of the kids. People willing to do this work are my heroes. It doesn’t pay, it’s tough mentally, it’s tough emotionally, but it is so necessary.  

One of the families they were helping was really struggling. I met a dad of a four-month old and a very sweet, polite 11-year old. The father told me that his wife was picked up in the raid and that she is having a hard time in detention. She is depressed, and her breasts are painful and swollen, as she was still breast-feeding when she was picked up. She can’t bond out — I don’t think they’ve even set bond for these families. 

I met another woman at the church. She was in detention for the last week and was only released yesterday when ICE realized that they had also detained her husband at another facility, leaving her children on their own without either parent. She told me about the conditions in the facility, the depression that she felt while she was there, missing her family, not knowing how they were doing. She talked about the day of the raid, one of her co-workers punched in the face by an agent (“he was scared and he started to run, so they ran him down and punched him”). She talked about workers being cuffed and their cuffs tied to ankle restraints, like you’d tie a hog. I asked her how she felt now. She told me “I’m just happy to be with my son. That’s the only thing that matters to me.”

….If you’re wondering what you can do, please make a donation to the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance. Here’s the link:


Beto O’Rourke

This is what O’Rourke excels at. This face-to-face interaction and these heart-wrenching emails calling for help is his greatest strength on the trail and one of many reasons why I don’t want him to be President. I feel O’Rourke would be wasted in the White House.

I have decided to change no longer running candidates to BTE Blue.

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!

4 thoughts on “Week 13: August 11-August 17

  1. Hey, congrats on your 100th post! I love how we get to peek in on the other campaigns without getting inundated, ourselves, with emails. I’m on Cory’s list because I donated to immigrant groups at his request and I don’t have the heart to unsubscribe (I like him–not for President, but I like him).

    Beto, too–another truly decent guy. I’m still Team Pete all the way, but would love to see some of these other folks take an active role in his administration (or in Congress). At this point I wish Bernie and Biden would just bow out. I’ve never been a Bernie fan and Biden–well, I still have a lot of lingering affection for him, but I find myself feeling more embarrassed for him all the time. It’s a shame–I can’t get over the feeling he’s doing this for Beau. I’m sorry he wasn’t in a position to run last election, but sometimes you just have to acknowledge the moment has come and gone.

    And FYI, I still prefer the bar charts. Keep on keepin’ on–we appreciate your efforts!


    1. I agree regarding email lists I subscribed to but don’t have the heart to back out of. Even though I’m getting all the emails through BTE! I really do want Biden to retire with dignity and just spend time with the people he loves. And I like so many other candidates in positions that aren’t president.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on getting to 100! Been following this for a while and it’s been a fun ride.

    As for the charts, from what I’ve heard, pie charts are bad and should be avoided unless the way certain groupings compare to other values or groupings is significant.

    In this case, I prefer the bar chart for the ‘day of the week’ chart. The pie chart doesn’t add anything of value, and in fact makes it harder to tell how the values relate.

    For the ask chart, however, the pie is better. With the bar chart, you know the ‘donate’ is overwhelming, but the pie chart allows you to immediately compare it to the to the rest of the values as a group (aha!). You can immediately tell it’s 2/3rds of the emails. That’s useful to know, and you can’t (easily) get that from a bar chart. Of course, you lose some fidelity with how the lower end values relate to each other. It’s all a trade-off.

    …if that makes any sense

    Anyway, I appreciate the boatload of time and effort you’ve put into this!


    1. Thanks! Sounds like my instincts for the charts were on point initially. I’ll stick to what I’ve been doing for the future. I appreciate the explanation behind your feedback!


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