Day 119: 9/16/19

Mondays are full of gloom, and campaign emails aren’t much different. Many campaigns didn’t bother emailing me at all. Those who did were worried about their money. Except Joe Sestak. He just wanted to let me know his agenda. And Julian Castro was turning 45.

A lot of blank spaces in this chart.

After being routed from her throne over the weekend, Kamala Harris is back on top of the email pile with 5 emails. In second place, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, and Elizabeth Warren each sent 3.

Other = asking me to sign Julian Castro’s birthday card.

Many campaigns were focusing on fundraising on Monday, with donation asks being highest, but calls to investigate or impeach Brett Kavanaugh were also high. Kamala Harris reminded us that she stood up to Kavanaugh in his confirmation hearings and has always been opposed to him. She started her emails about Kavanaugh with content warnings about sexual assault.

Julian Castro started his one non-birthday card email with an entire paragraph in blue hyperlinked font and highlighted fluorescent yellow, just like he had with the gun violence email. Though the Kavanaugh email was much less detailed than the Odessa shooting email, it was still a very jarring slap of something unpleasant first thing in my inbox.

I also found it interesting that both his birthday card and his petition to impeach Kavanaugh were requesting 50,000 signatures by midnight.

Castro is very big on petitions. He was the only candidate to offer a petition for his debate ticket contest instead of a donation (though all candidates had a no purchase necessary access). These feel like list-growing moves, ways to get your contact information so he can ask for money later. It is, at its heart, what Andrew Yang was doing with his Freedom Dividend giveaway. If someone gives you their email, that’s a foot in the door to get them to give you money.

Elizabeth Warren gave a live broadcast speech about her anti-corruption plan on Monday, and she gave me a link to watch it. Marianne Williamson and Cory Booker both talked about the importance of the UAW strike and how it was the biggest strike since 2007. Steve Bullock sent me a video message from the actor Jeff Bridges (AKA The Dude). Joe Biden wanted my opinion on how he did in the debate.

And Tim Ryan’s father emailed me, making me eat my words yesterday about how it’s always the mothers who email on behalf of their kids.

Tom Steyer emailed me about his climate policy.

Despite all of that, the one thing on everyone’s mind was Fundraising.

Specifically, how bad everyone was doing.

First of all, MOMENTUM. The big Mo. The thing every campaign wants. On Monday, 5 campaigns were claiming they had it.

I know this is no easy task — but the FEC filing deadline is two weeks away, and we can’t fall behind. Our campaign has seen real momentum these last few weeks, and we need to show the people that this underdog campaign can keep it up.

Cory Booker

It might be worth pointing out that in this very email, Cory Booker told me he was extending his fundraising deadline for $250,000 between the 12th and the 15th by an extra day. He didn’t specifically say he didn’t make his goal, but why else would you extend a deadline?

But after Thursday’s debate, we’re in a new phase of our campaign. The New York Times reports that the Democratic primary is entering a “sudden-death” round. We need to make sure Amy, the candidate who can win the Heartland and beat Trump, moves forward.

We’re counting on you. Donate now to keep Amy’s momentum building.

Amy has been working incredibly hard to meet people all over the country and get her message out there. But this campaign needs you to get to the next level and take Amy all the way to the White House. Can we count on you to make a donation right away?

Team Amy

Amy Klobuchar didn’t say her fundraising was doing bad, but she did only send that last paragraph (and a couple extra explaining why she’s the best to defeat Trump) to my donor email.

We have a crucial mid-month fundraising goal coming up tonight at midnight, and we have to hit it.

There is so much momentum behind Kamala and our campaign coming out of last week’s debate. We have to expand our organizing efforts on the ground and double down on our ad campaign to reach more voters.

But as of right now, it looks like we will not reach this goal. If we come up short, we won’t be able to capitalize on our momentum and do what it takes to win.

Team Kamala

Kamala Harris has been behind her fundraising in so many of her emails, but she has never mentioned being behind in her momentum.

Michael’s campaign is heating up: we’re launching TV ads, hiring more field staff, and opening offices.

But if we don’t have the resources to keep Michael’s momentum building, we could start to lose ground and fall behind!

We need to raise another $150,000 before our end-of-month deadline. This is our moment to show our grassroots strength.

Team Bennet

Start to lose ground? Michael Bennet is asking for another $150,000 end-of-month deadline when he never told me he had met his previous $150,000 end-of-month deadline. Unless this is all the same deadline, and he hasn’t actually raised any money?

Polls show that the main thing Democrats want in a candidate is someone who can defeat Donald Trump. That’s one of the reasons our campaign is gaining momentum so quickly.

We’ve already seen polls showing Andrew defeating Trump by a larger margin than almost any other candidate in this race.

If Andrew’s the nominee, we win. That’s the math. But to get there, we need to spread our message to all the key voters in the early primary states. Pitch in now so we can get Andrew’s message in front of more voters.

This is where you come in, friend. The mainstream media continues to ignore our momentum, so we’re building out our own media plan in Iowa and New Hampshire to air ads speaking directly with the voters who will decide this primary.

The more money we raise right now, the more air time we can reserve in these competitive markets. So we’re asking you directly: Can you chip in our average online contribution of $23 or more right now?

Team Yang

Andrew Yang really has given up on calling me by name, though he will still customize his emails occasionally to my previous donation or the fact that I had donated before. I never realized how much it matters that a politician tries to individualize these form messages.

While Yang’s email here isn’t really raising any alarms, his email earlier in the day was telling a different story.

Andrew is rising in the polls, but right now our September grassroots donations are coming in a little slower than expected… Almost 80% of our total fundraising comes from grassroots supporters giving what they can. That means when our grassroots donations fall short of goals, we have to cut back on our budget.

September is a critical time — in two weeks our fundraising numbers will go public and everyone will see how strong this campaign is. Can you make your first contribution of $5 so we can get back on track to hit our goal?


The more I get emails like these, the more I wonder if I understand what the word “momentum” really means. I thought it meant something like… people are supporting you, which pushes your campaign forward, which gets more people to support you, which pushes you forward and gets more, and it goes faster and faster because like a snowball rolling down a hill, it gets bigger and bigger…

And basically, I figured momentum means the campaign is basically building itself, including financially. Apparently, campaign momentum is not the same as money momentum.

Just because they aren’t saying the word momentum doesn’t mean the other candidates aren’t having their own struggles. Both Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders are worried about how many fundraisers their opponents are having.

Three of our opponents are combining for 43 high-dollar fundraising events in the two weeks before our September 30 fundraising deadline.

At these 43 fancy fundraisers, hundreds of people will hand over $2,800 checks, totaling millions of dollars that we have to reckon with.

Bernie’s doing 0 high-dollar fundraising events. We’re the only campaign in this race funded by grassroots donations from start to finish. That’s because we have nearly 1 million people who contribute about $19 at a time to build our campaign.

But with less than two weeks before our biggest FEC fundraising deadline, we have to ask:

Can Bernie count on you to contribute $2.70 to our campaign for the first time before our deadline? We can’t afford to fall behind.

Team Bernie

We’ve got some news for you.

First, the good news: Beto had a breakout performance at the debate, and now our fundraising is going up.⬆

Now, the bad news: The Washington Post reports that three of our opponents are holding at least 43 high-dollar donor fundraising events before the FEC deadline, where they’ll collect lots of $2,800 checks.

Truthfully, while more people are getting involved in Beto’s campaign, our average contribution is actually declining. It’s just $22 this past week.⬇ For each $2,800 check to our opponents, we need to match it with 127 online donations.

Team Beto

Amazing how fundraising is both going up and down for O’Rourke. And poor Sanders, my heart aches for him, choosing voluntarily to not hold any fundraisers and watching the campaigns that do hold fundraisers pulling in lots of money at their fundraisers.

Nothing is stopping these guys from holding their own fundraisers. Especially in Sanders’ case: it was his choice to not hold fundraisers. Not even $5/ticket fundraisers. That’s not the other candidates’ faults.

Joe Biden, meanwhile, is totally not worried about his Q3 numbers. Oh no, he’s just going to lower the bar in advance of the release.

With our public fundraising deadline in less than two weeks it’s easy to get caught up in the media hype of reporting “how-many-millions raised.”

But I’m less concerned about that, folks — that’s why we’re counting donors in this last September push. I care more about identifying 10,000 grassroots donors that can carry us through this primary.

Greg Schultz, Campaign Manager, Biden for President

Yes, let’s not worry about how many millions raised. Wanna bet if Biden comes out on top, he’ll absolutely be trumpeting those numbers? By saying it’s not a worry now, Biden is able to brush off any concerns over less-than-ideal numbers when they’re made public.

(see, Tulsi Gabbard and Michael Bennet? If you complain before you’re shown to be losing, it’s not because you lost, it’s because you don’t like the media circus!)

There were a handful of candidates not worried about their finances on Monday. Julian Castro was all about his birthday. Joe Sestak gave me his campaign’s agenda for the week. Tim Ryan was still optimistic about his chances to get on the debate stage without saying his chances were slim or struggling. Tom Steyer told me about his climate plan impressing a climate labor expert. Steve Bullock wanted me to hear from his famous friend. Marianne Williamson had some words on the GM strike. And Elizabeth Warren was repeating the urgency of her end-of-month FEC deadline without telling me if she was worried or not.

But other than that, it sounds like no one is happy with their campaign finances.

Does anyone enjoy the emails from the 200+ campaigns?

6 thoughts on “Day 119: 9/16/19

  1. Great article, a usual!
    Concerning the Fundraisers, I understand Bernie’s position, socialism, billionaires are bad etc. But what is Beto’s rationale to forgo this route? It at least have small tickets fundraisers? I mean, how does he plan to campaign until Iowa caucus if he’s going to show the same numbers than those if Q2?
    The constant demeaning of those who clearly want to give their campaigns the best chances to go a long way has become annoying 😦 .


    1. Thank you!

      I quite agree: listening to Sanders and O’Rourke go off on fundraisers is such a turn-off. I REALLY don’t understand O’Rourke’s mentality! And I don’t understand why ALL fundraisers are bad to Sanders: is he saying asking for $5 tickets is bad? Oh no, think of all the billionaires!

      Like, if you don’t want to have fundraisers, that’s fine. You don’t need to have fundraisers. But fundraisers aren’t where billionaires come and give you $2,800 checks! I’m going to one of Buttigieg’s 10 fundraisers before the end of the month (OMG, less than a fundraiser a day, that corporate shill!) because readers of this blog chipped in $3 at a time to buy me a ticket so I can report back. It’s a chance to get to meet a candidate in a smaller, limited group.

      Maybe that’s what Sanders has issues with. Maybe he’s not good in smaller settings… he’s never held a contest for someone to have a chance to meet him individually, after all.


      1. I’m glad I’ve been able to contribute to your fundraising for the Fundraiser 🙂 . We Pete Stans LOVE giving our money away, especially for things we believe in lol !
        Can’t wait to read your report.


  2. This is such a difficult question. I feel like he’s been asked so many things. OK, I have this one, which is very specific, but dear to my heart.
    The context of the question : there’s been a terrible backlash in Africa about gay rights, with the perceived push by the Obama administration to try to “force western values on Africans” (eye roll, as if gay Africans only started to exist under Obama) and have them enact gay marriage laws, when all these people want is to be left alone to live their lives in peace.
    My question will go like this : How will a Buttigieg administration use its diplomatic tools to ensure that, at least, the humanity of LGBTQ people in the rest of the world is respected and bring an end to the laws that criminalize their very existence?


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