Day 150: 10/17/19

Have I really been writing this blog for 150 days? Wow!

Now that the initial debate buzz has worn off, the campaigns can start talking about other things. Kamala Harris chose to discuss FEC numbers, as did Joe Biden. Steve Bullock felt a fresh wave of energy as a new poll showed him doing well in Iowa. And Elizabeth Warren had her whole team calling donors.

Nobody was exceptionally bad today, if by bad I mean more than 3 emails in 24 hours.

Joe Biden, Cory Booker, and Julian Castro all sent 3 emails on Thursday. Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren each sent 2 emails.

Finally shifting away from just debates or fundraising.

Joe Biden talked about getting money out of politics, teasing me with an email that had the subject line of “This could be your LAST fundraising email.”

Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.

Kamala Harris dropped a policy to help rural America, while Andrew Yang talked about his policy to make your data a marketable commodity that benefits you.

Cory Booker reminded me about his November debate contest which included a meal with himself and Rosario Dawson.

But really, people still wanted to talk about their fundraising numbers.

This week, every presidential campaign filed a report with the Federal Election Commission detailing how much money they have raised and spent over the course of this race.

I’m digging into the data and I have a few numbers I want to share with you. And yes, I’m going to ask you to make a contribution to our campaign at the end of this email. But before I do, I want to take a moment to thank you for what you have built in the months since we kicked off this campaign back in Oakland.

I want you to know: grassroots supporters like you have built an incredible campaign.

Thanks to you, we’re in a strong position to compete in states like Iowa by building up our team on the ground and investing in targeted ads to introduce even more people to Kamala and the story of our campaign.

By pitching in a few dollars at a time, hosting watch parties, knocking on doors in your community, and reaching out to your friends and neighbors, you’re building a true grassroots campaign from the ground up. It has been amazing to see.

Now, the data. Here’s the hard truth: we are being both outraised and outspent in this election.

Bernie Sanders reported having over $33 million cash on hand. Elizabeth Warren, $25 million. Pete Buttigieg, $23 million.

That’s a lot of money candidates are going to be able to spend over the coming months to reach the many millions of Democratic voters who haven’t yet made up their minds in this primary.

So we have a big task ahead of us to cut through the noise and win this election. But you’ve shown already that we have one hell of a grassroots team ready to do what it takes. And in Kamala Harris, we have one hell of a candidate.

Juan Rodriguez, Campaign Manager, Kamala Harris for the People

It’s really sad when digging into the numbers doesn’t give you anything positive to share with your supporters. Harris has really been struggling, and apparently, her campaign manager didn’t have anything more than “you guys are awesome” to encourage her supporters.

Joe Biden was also expressing his concerns yesterday. ” I really wanted to email you celebrating Joe’s huge night at the Ohio debate on Tuesday,” said his online fundraising director, “but this tweet has me worried:”

The email subject of the non-donor version said “Unsustainable.”

I hate to say it, but our opponents are way ahead of us when it comes to money in the bank.

And on top of that, some of our opponents have boasted raising big bucks since Tuesday night’s debate. That could give them a huge leg up going into the next phase of this race.

If we don’t pick up the pace here, we might have to make budget cuts that could seriously hurt our momentum in this primary. I don’t want that to happen — do you, Aimin?

Having less cash on hand means we have less budget to respond to the constant twists and turns of this race — and with Donald Trump constantly pushing his false smear campaign against Joe, that’s a HUGE problem.

But this isn’t just about funding our warchest to fight back against Trump.

The first votes will be cast in this primary starting February 3, 2020 — just over 100 days from now — and we need to be fueling our grassroots efforts in crucial states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

We can’t afford to fall behind, Aimin, so I’m asking you to step up again and make a donation to fuel our campaign. Will you chip in $5 now?

Elana Firsht, Online Fundraising Director, Biden for President

Like Harris, this is Biden failing to bring hope to his supporters. He couldn’t even celebrate the debate because of how poorly his fundraising and budgeting had done in Q3.

The polls, every candidate says, are meaningless (unless it shows them gaining). Even poll analyzers with no real horse in the race other than correct analysis say this far out, the polls are largely meaningless. However, financial support might be a stronger indicator of campaign strength. Quite simply, if you don’t have the money, you won’t go anywhere. Biden has been spending more money than he’s been pulling in, and his debate appearances haven’t changed things.

Or, to put it in other terms, Wayne Messam had a greater cash-on-hand change in Q3 than Joe Biden.

Remember how Messam only raised a grand total of $5? He spent $0, meaning his cash-on-hand went up by $5.

Biden spent over $2 million more than he raised. His cash on hand change was -$2 million.

Momentum means building upon the success of the past. It means a movement that is growing as time goes on, not shrinking. The polls may have been fairly steady for Biden… but the money certainly isn’t.

However, speaking about polls, a new poll in Iowa has convinced Steve Bullock he’s on the right track.

Bullock doctored the graphic to make himself stand out more.

It’s worth noting that 7 candidates who were on the October debate stage were polling behind Bullock in this poll. Bullock himself certainly noticed it. He said he knew all along that if they put their heads down and focused on Iowa, they could win!

It certainly will be interesting to see if this strategy pays off in other polls, or if this was a one-time blip. This poll also shows Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren tied for first, with Pete Buttigieg behind them and above Bernie Sanders. Andrew Yang is only doing a sliver better than Steve Bullock.

This poll was conducted between October 13-16, so it did cover a little post-debate. It has a margin of error of 5.5% and some questionable polling methodolgy (landlines and online only, no cell phones).

I’d say good for Bullock, except this just makes me sigh. He’s definitely not going to be the next to drop out now. (My money is still on Tim Ryan, with his 0% in this poll and his dwindling email presence).

Policy drops usually come with petitions to support them.

Marianne Williamson sent an email from a supporter who wanted to let me know why she supported Williamson. In addition to the usual donation ask, it also asked for me to send my own story to the campaign so they could feature it too.

Joe Sestak sent the lone info-only email, letting me know he survived last night and was back on the road again.

Elizabeth Warren was telling me about her Grassroots Donor Thank You Day. This email was… interesting.

We had an exciting day at Warren HQ yesterday, because it was our first Grassroots Donor Thank You Day!

What does that mean, exactly? Well, Elizabeth and every member of the Team Warren staff made calls to grassroots donors to say, “Thank you for chipping in!” — and that means hundreds of supporters, from across the country, received thank you calls.

If you donate right now, Elizabeth or another member of Team Warren may call you on our next Grassroots Donor Thank You Day. Will you chip in $3 now and join this grassroots movement?

We heard stories from supporters all over the country and talked with them about the issues that matter to them and their communities. Some of our favorites included:

Kathleen, from Maryland, who cares about health care and supporting our veterans.

José, in Florida, who cares about creating a fair and welcoming immigration system.

Devin, from Kansas, who’s excited that Elizabeth is going to take on corruption in Washington.

Carrie, in New Jersey, who cares about securing LGBTQ+ rights and equality.

Carolyn, from Indiana, who caught Elizabeth at the community conversation in Elkhart. (She was even wearing her “Persist” t-shirt when we called her!)

Some of the people we called said they wanted to volunteer, while others shared their plans to donate again — but the best part of it all was that we got to celebrate our grassroots team for powering this movement every day.

If you missed out on getting a call from Elizabeth or a member of Team Warren, don’t worry because Grassroots Donor Thank You Day won’t be a one-time thing. You can chip in now and we might call you next time to say thanks.

Team Warren

This email did not get counted as a thank you email. Why?

Because she wasn’t thanking me.

She was telling me how she could thank me, maybe, in the future, if I donated. Dangling a potential thank you is not the same as actually saying thank you. There was no “Thank you to all our grassroots donors! We tried to call as many as we could to thank you personally!”

See, just adding that line would have made it count as a thank you email. But she didn’t.

And she doesn’t.

Warren has said thank you to me before, however, almost every time she talks about these calls she loves to make so much, it’s never in terms of thanking me. It’s always in terms of maybe she might thank me, so I should donate because I never know! It’s been fascinating to watch her market something as simple as gratitude. Fascinating, and a slight bit off-putting.

I believe Warren is grateful for her donors. I don’t doubt she’d thank us all if she could. But the fact that she is “selling” her personal thank yous and not accompanying them with an emailed thank you is just… ehhh. It’s one of those things that knocks you ever so slightly off-kilter once you’ve noticed it.

Full disclosure: I have 58 emails from Warren marked as “Thank you” emails.

3 thoughts on “Day 150: 10/17/19

  1. Congratulations on your 150th post. What a journey!
    I can’t remember if the candidates mentioned the others by name in their FR mails prior to these last weeks, what with their new favourite punching ball, or complaining about how much money their others have. Is it usual or is it some ugly turn, now that the Iowa caucus is getting closer?
    Does PFA ever fundraise by mentioning how poorly they’re doing compared to the others?


    1. They very rarely* mention others by name, and when they do, it’s almost always “Bernie has raised $47 million! That’s a lot! We need to do better!” They are starting to pick up more now, like Harris and Biden did yesterday.

      * most** of them have shit on Steyer by name or as a billionaire writing himself $10 million checks.

      **not Buttigieg

      Buttigieg has NEVER compared how he’s doing to the others, not even vaguely. I don’t think he’s ever mentioned his competitors at all, really, other than maybe a mention of who would be on the debate stage with him in June/July. He’s very focused on what he can do for us and what we can do for him.


      1. So the Castro mail (and the AOC one which is not featured here) is a new development then. Interesting. See how it works and if they keep it up.


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