Week 19: September 22-28

This week has been leading up to a massive fundraising deadline.

Surprisingly, it’s not the busiest week ever.

Despite this being THE MOST CRITICAL DEADLINE EVER, Q3 has fewer emails than Q2
EmailsCampaigns
Total49118
Non-Donor25018
Donor24116
Remember, this was only over 7 days.

Kamala Harris averaged more than 4 emails a day with a total of 32 emails in the week leading up to the FEC deadline. Joe Biden pulled in a distant second at only 26 emails in a week, just under 4 a day, while Elizabeth Warren sent more than 3 a day, ending up with 24 total emails in seven days.

I really don’t understand the mentality behind this. If the first 31 emails didn’t get the desired response, what makes them think the 32nd would trigger a donation instead of irritation?

Not even close

For anyone paying attention, we should all know that Monday is the FEC Q3 deadline. All campaigns will be required to pull together their receipts from July-August-September and turn their records over to the FEC, and that information will be made public. Of course, that means that all the campaigns are desperately trying to pull in last-minute donations. This donation push is so strong it has overwhelmed the news of a generation: Donald Trump is formally under impeachment inquiry.

I guarantee you the history books fifty years from now will talk about Trump, and absolutely none of them will mention the CRUCIAL Q3 DEADLINE.

This breakdown says a lot.

In the moment, however, the campaigns just care about how they’re going to compare to each other. They’re all talking as if on Tuesday morning, all of their data will be public and everyone will be comparing them, but that’s not actually true. They have several weeks to pull together their numbers and turn them in, and if past quarters have said anything, it’s that most campaigns wait until the very last minute to publicize their numbers.

None of them are shy about announcing that they are tracking behind their goals. 77 emails this past week, 11 a day, have announced that they aren’t where they want to be in regards to their end of quarter goals. Being behind is apparently the cool political thing to do.

Missing your goal is not so cool. Only Cory Booker and John Delaney mentioned having failed to hit a target. Being the scrappy underdog who comes back from what looks like the jaws of defeat is heartwarming. Being the scrappy underdog who loses? Not so inspiring.

Surprisingly, surpassing your goals is also not heartwarming, unless you were the scrappy underdog. Only 5 emails this week mentioned goals that had been more than made, by Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg. Yes, Booker is trying the whole field: behind, missed, surpassed. He surpassed a daily goal, but he still has his major EOQ goal he needs to hit. Buttigieg, on the other hand, simply touched back on his one-day $750,000 goal that he surpassed, and he mentioned it three times in casual flexes. However, saying that you can hit your goals with confidence could lead to people going “Okay, then you don’t NEED me to donate.”

It’s a fine balance, and one I don’t think anyone managed to walk.

165,000 donors is the November debate requirement.

The goals were as varied as the candidates. They were all, in the words of their campaign, ambitious. Some were more ambitious than others. Notably, Elizabeth Warren refused to put a monetary value on her goals for the quarter, judging only based on the number of people who had donated. Bernie Sanders was also shy about putting concrete numbers down, though he did let a couple slip. Tom Steyer and John Delaney, the richest two candidates in the field, didn’t care about money at all, but neither did Tulsi Gabbard or Julian Castro. Tim Ryan had the smallest monetary goal, trying to raise just $27,000 before Monday, while Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, and Andrew Yang would each need to raise more than Ryan’s entire goal every day just to hit their goals.

Really very little variation.

Incentives for donating were surprisingly unoriginal. Elizabeth Warren was offering her usual calling of donors, and Pete Buttigieg jumped on that bandwagon with his husband Chasten making calls. The grassroots donor wall that Warren had pioneered was picked up by Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg as well, and Warren unveiled a new digital donor wall. Cory Booker said he would have to drop out if he didn’t raise his full $1.7 million by Monday, and Julian Castro sort of kind of picked up a similar desperate tact, saying that if he doesn’t make the next debate stage (deadline actually a week before the November debate and NOT on Monday), it’ll be the end of his campaign. Pete Buttigieg offered a discount code on his merch, and Andrew Yang launched some new stickers. Kamala Harris started up the typical “donate and win a chance to go to the debates with me!” contest (pioneered by Cory Booker), and Joe Biden tried to scare me into donating by saying that if he fell short, Trump would laugh.

A lot of campaigns tried guilt, pointing out that if they didn’t make their goal, they would fall behind, and they neeeeeeeded me. Joe Biden wallowed in the mud Trump had flung at him and his son, trying to guilt the country into rallying around him. It was Beto O’Rourke, however, who sunk the lowest (in jest).

Campaigns are really upping the ante when it comes to fundraising for the FEC deadline. Two candidates said this week they would drop out if they don’t meet their goals. Now, we’re not going to do that. But, I am starting to run out of ways to show how important this deadline is.

Maybe I could do a Facebook live stream with a kitten in hand and say, “You know, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to this kitten now would we… Send your $5 now and Miss Whiskers will be fine.”

To be clear, we’re not planning on harming any kittens. But we do need your help. We’re more than halfway to our goal, and if even 10% of the people reading my email right now choose to donate, we could hit it within just a few hours.

Beto O’Rourke

To be fair, this email was sent out after he had made this joke in a live interview with the Texas Tribune, and it went over well with the live audience. At the same time…

It’s a joke. I know it’s a joke. But how, to quote O’Rourke, “fucked up” is it that a joke about threatening baby animals for money is a natural progression of how desperate these campaign emails are this time of year?

Many candidates talked about how much they hate begging people for money. How soul-crushing it is. Andrew Yang takes particular offense.

Candidates running for office shouldn’t have to beg mega-wealthy individuals and corporations for money. If we implemented my policy of Democracy Dollars, every American would have $100 to give to their favorite candidate. Imagine how empowering that would feel.

If I’m elected president — that will be one of the policies I will implement to restore trust in our democracy. Until then, I have to send you this email and I have to ask you donate to my campaign. So, will you?

Andrew Yang

First of all, I hate the term “Democracy Dollars.” It sounds like the way we branded French fries “Freedom fries” a while ago for who knows what reason anymore. It sounds so stupid.

However, I like the concept of publicly funded elections. Every citizen gets X amount of money from the government that they can give to whatever candidates they want (can’t keep it for themselves, probably a tax rebate), and that’s it. No more big money or dark money twisting elections around, every person has the same share.

I don’t think that will solve Yang’s problem of politicians begging people for money. It might, in some ways, make it worse, because instead of calling “mega-wealthy individuals,” now you have to call everyone. As a candidate, you don’t just automatically get money just because citizens are more willing to give money. You still need to make your case. I feel like I would be more discerning with my donations if I had such a limited amount. $100? I’ve already given $22 just in the name of running this blog ($23 actually, I gave to Tom Steyer with the wrong account). That would be nearly a quarter of my allotted amount just on Presidential campaigns alone, never mind all the Congressional, state, or local elections! (State and local elections are important, and their budgets are a TON smaller! Your donations go further there! Remember, state and local are the elections that both decide congressional districts AND directly impact you the most! Don’t let Republicans get easy wins!)

So yes, publicly funded elections could solve a lot of problems with our government, but I don’t think it would solve the problem of politicians still needing to beg for money.

This surprised me.

In this past week, the House of Representatives officially began impeachment inquiries on Trump.

Despite that, very few emails attacked Republicans*. In fact, attacks on fellow Democrats equaled attacks on Republicans this week.

This was counted separately

*Attacks on just Trump or his administration were not counted as attacks on Republicans.

Some weren’t that bad. Andrew Yang smacked out at the DNC and “the establishment” early on. So did Tulsi Gabbard and Michael Bennet.

The DNC is getting ready to introduce new qualifying thresholds for the upcoming debates in November. The problem? They won’t tell us what the new thresholds are.

We can assume that the requirements will include some combination of high polling and donation numbers. And we know the DNC is biased in favor of establishment candidates.

Team Yang

Our campaign is a triumph against the odds and against the status quo. The political establishment has done everything they can to shut Tulsi out of the positive mainstream coverage regularly doled out to establishment darlings like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren – coverage worth millions of dollars in free advertising. Tulsi isn’t interested in playing political games or jumping through the hoops set up by the political elite. She’s here for we, the people.

Tulsi’s platform is only as large as we build it: In September Tulsi was denied a spot on the DNC debate stage and therefore the opportunity to reach millions of people with her important message in one night. Now we need to make up lost ground and make sure Tulsi walks onto that Ohio stage in October on equal footing.

TULSI2020

Team, the DNC released a new set of arbitrary debate requirements.

As we saw in a poll just this weekend, 90% of voters haven’t decided who they are voting for. Yet the DNC is using polling to winnow the field even further, when it’s voters and caucusgoers who should be determining our nominee.

Bennet for America Team

John Delaney was miffed at the new thresholds, but really, he was upset at his fellow candidates.

Right now, nearly every Democratic candidate for President is presenting America with promises that are impossible to fulfill.

That’s why it’s so important to keep John’s voice in this race.

Team Delaney

However, it was Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris who leveled their aim at Joe Biden in nervous anticipation of whispers in the news.

It was only a matter of time.

The New York Times reports that “anxious Biden allies” are considering starting a super PAC, “and have held conversations with wealthy donors to gauge their interest in contributing money.”

It should not be a surprise that wealthy donors of the political establishment are trying to buy this election. Now we need to be ready for when they do.

This is an urgent situation, and we must respond — especially before our FEC fundraising deadline.

Can Bernie count on you to rush a $1 contribution to our campaign to prepare against attacks from a potential Biden super PAC? Add yours here.

Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack candidates. They became legal because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.

They are a threat to our democracy. And frankly, they are a threat to our campaign and our hopes to transform our country.

The antidote to a super PAC is a political revolution funded by working people, chipping in what they can. We are the only campaign that is entirely funded by grassroots donations from start to finish. And so now we are asking you to chip in what you can before our FEC fundraising deadline.

Please contribute $1 — or whatever you can right now, whether it’s less or more — to respond to these reports of a Biden super PAC.

Thank you for your quick response here.

Team Bernie

NYT: “Anxious Biden Allies May Unleash Super PAC”

We’re already being outspent and outraised by many campaigns, including a billionaire hedge fund manager trying to buy this election by spending huge sums of money on TV and digital ads.

Now, we have to contend with the potential of a Joe Biden super PAC — and who knows how many candidates might follow suit.

Kamala doesn’t have a super PAC. She doesn’t take money from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists. Our campaign is funded by over 750,000 individual contributions from folks just like you.

Rush a donation of any amount today to ensure we report a strong number on our FEC report and have the resources to compete with these super PACs, billionaire self-funders, and more.

Team Kamala

They aren’t going after Biden for Trump’s smears, which I appreciate, but they have no similar restraint to a story that some of his allies are talking about maybe making a super PAC. And yes, again, super PACs aren’t good. But it doesn’t exist (yet)! It hasn’t done anything! And not only are Harris and Sanders griping about it, they’re also sowing seeds of “the others will follow suit!”

We don’t need conspiracy theories in our politics. We really, truly don’t.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, though, Tulsi Gabbard is proving to be the queen this week.

Tulsi being shut out of the September debate meant we missed out on media coverage equivalent to millions of dollars worth of advertising… millions that went to media darlings like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren instead. 

We’ve got lost ground to make up, quickly, in order to demonstrate the grassroots momentum we see every day on the ground, in the books…. 

…We all saw how hard the political elite, and their allies in the corporate media, have worked to keep Tulsi off the debate stage, to deny her platform coverage and to ignore our campaign’s obvious grassroots momentum. But they failed. Against these obstacles, Tulsi qualified once again for the October debates, proving that not only does she deserve to be on the debate stage, but that her message is resonating with people on the ground, where it matters.

Caitlin, TULSI2020

The “political elite” and the “corporate media” are working to keep Gabbard off the debate stage and giving coverage to “media darlings” Harris and Warren.

FiveThirtyEight does this wonderful regular piece on the amount of news coverage the various candidates get.

Article this was taken from is linked above.

Now, granted, this is the week of the Trump scandal about Biden, so of course Biden’s coverage went way up. But even before that, he was still dominating the news. And Bernie Sanders had been in third place with twice as much cable news coverage as Kamala Harris.

And yet Gabbard only called out her fellow female candidates as “media darlings.” Pete Buttigieg was the only other active candidate whose cable coverage went up by over a point. Beto O’Rourke had more coverage than Harris the week of 9/8. In a recap of the last debate I watched, a “best moments” compilation, Elizabeth Warren didn’t get any coverage.

I am concerned at how Gabbard is now repeatedly targeting the other women in the field. I’m concerned about the stories about how the nameless, faceless “political elite” and “corporate media” are keeping her down. I’m concerned when Bernie Sanders or Andrew Yang or even Michael Bennet emphasize it too, but Gabbard was the heaviest this week.

I don’t want more conspiracy theories in the White House.

For what it’s worth, Joe Sestak also talked about the media keeping him down, though he brought receipts.

The challenge I am overcoming today is the three national cable news networks, exemplified by one network’s internal email to its producers the day after I announced:

“As per the guidance of our Political Unit, XXX is NOT currently counting Joe Sestak (former Navy admiral and former U.S. House Member from Pennsylvania) on our list of major 2020 candidates” … canceling a planned interview, as the other networks joined in by declining repeated requests for interviews on war and peace.

Contribute

No complaints, just have to overcome the Establishment’s decision of “when being late is”  that prevents all TV appearances on the three networks. I already pulled ahead of two candidates who had CNN town halls because the need for my ability to unite this country is, actually, timely.

Joe Sestak

Admittedly, Sestak is not considered a major player in the game by most people. Most people don’t know anything about him. I barely know anything about him, though I’ve gotten all his emails since he joined the race. However, look at the timing of that email from the network that he took offense at.

The day after he announced.

When Sestak announced, there were already 20+ candidates in the field. He is barely better than a nobody in the political game, and the race was already thoroughly crowded. For sanity’s sake, of course he wouldn’t be considered major at his first announcement! Even billionaire Tom Steyer wasn’t immediately considered a major contender on day one.

You don’t get the honor of being taken seriously when you jump into a crowded field of superstars just because you’re a white guy who had done some politicking in the past. Stand out first, differentiate yourself from the pack, and then be taken seriously.

Nineteen weeks in and more than six THOUSAND emails.

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!

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