Week 26: November 10-16

This past week had a mid-month fundraising deadline and a new candidate entering the race. Tulsi Gabbard made Veterans Day an issue to be better than someone else over, Pete Buttigieg stopped letting us say “no” in his surveys, and John Delaney can’t figure out why he’s floundering.

In addition, I did a side-by-side comparison of Elizabeth Warren’s Transition to Medicare for All plan and Pete Buttigieg’s Medicare for All Who Want It plan on my Twitter account. Read it here!

And here we go, another debate approaching!

For all new readers: Welcome! I am currently on the mailing lists of Joe Biden and Donald Trump, though I have previously been on the mailing lists of 28 Democratic candidates! This blog breaks down recent emails with charts and excerpts. If you already know all of this, feel free to skip to the next chart!

It took some time for the Trump emails to kick in, so I started officially tracking his list on July 7. I have been tracking Biden’s for longer, but I will start comparing them as of July 7. All of these emails are going to a new email, and I have not donated, filled out surveys, signed petitions, or otherwise interacted with either candidate’s emails.

The rules I try to follow for the various categories are laid out in The Framework.

Someone needs some attention…

Joe Biden spammed the week with a whopping 26 emails to his donor list. Julian Castro came in a distant second at only 20 emails, while Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren tied for third with 18.

Somewhat concerning to me is Joe Sestak, with only 4. Sestak has never been especially prolific, but he usually sends around an email a day, usually first thing in the morning (we’re talking 5-6 AM!) to let me know his schedule for the next few days. His campaign has seen huge surges of momentum lately, getting as high as 1% in a New Hampshire poll, but I’m worried he might be feeling some financial stress.

Monday was a holiday, hence the drop.

Usually, emails peak at the end of the week, but this time, it was on Wednesday. Monday’s drop in emails was related to Veterans Day, when many candidates only emailed once, if at all.

Somehow, Tulsi Gabbard made even honoring veterans a combative experience.

Today, they deserve more.

On this day we hear platitudes and words of thanks from politicians. But too often, this rhetoric is hollow — and the self-serving politicians who’d salute a veteran or march in a parade end up perpetuating the very same policies that have caused so much unnecessary suffering.

This hypocrisy must end.

Tulsi Gabbard

She really has a knack for taking something we should be able to unite around and use it to stir up feelings of anger and discontent. I really can’t figure out how she equates that with being a great uniter of people.

A surprising amount of non-standard asks this week.

I took some minor heat this weekend for tweeting about a survey Pete Buttigieg sent out. You may recall from an earlier post that I congratulated him for giving the option to say “No, I can’t give right now” in his surveys.

Well, that stance has apparently changed.

At least he didn’t include exclamation marks after each Yes?

Surveys like this one are unfortunately all too common among political emails. Some candidates (cough Julian Castro cough) preface them by going “I’m NOT asking for money, I JUST want your feedback!” Then you go through the whole survey and get slapped in the face with a question like this.

There are several ways around these sorts of questions. You don’t have to answer. If you just hit next, you can continue on as if nothing had happened. However, this does not sit well in most human brains, who like to complete things.

If you select the last option, for a custom amount, you can put $0 in. This lets you feel like you completed the survey, but it also gives you a slight frisson of “I cheated…” which doesn’t sit well for most people.

And no, not completing a political survey or getting that moment of discomfort aren’t horrible dealbreakers. Most people move on with ease. It’s not a big deal, so why am I even talking about it?

Well, because details matter. A survey like this one is a politician going “I would rather make you feel uncomfortable than let you say no to giving me money.”

Or, in other words, “I want to try to psychologically guilt you into giving me money.”

We’ve grown numb to this sort of political manipulation because we’ve let ourselves grow numb to it. Every politician does it. It’s just how politics work. But part of the point of this blog was to shine a light on these sorts of unsavory tactics. They only work if we let them work. If we push back when we’re treated this disrespectfully, if we complain to the campaign, if we refuse to give when an email is blatantly attempting to guilt or scare us into a donation, we can push the politicians toward a better path. But that also means we do have to give when they do send a good, strong email or a thoughtful message. Reward good behavior. Don’t tolerate bad.

Pete wasn’t the only one to send a survey this week. 29 emails in total qualified as “surveys.” I decided to go through and check them all out. Was this a tactic everyone used?

Julian Castro sent 4 emails in total with a survey. He did include a money question.

No “No” option.

Kamala Harris sent 3 emails with a survey, including her own money question.

It’s always the last question too.

Michael Bennet sent 4 survey emails with a money question.

Nobody else is talking about the Freedom Caucus.

Joe Biden has also sent 4 survey emails with a money question.

Biden has lots of reasons why he needs money.

Elizabeth Warren sent 2 emails with a survey, and she was the first to send a survey this week that did not have a money question at the end.

No money?

The worst offender this week was Steve Bullock, who sent 4 survey emails. Unlike the others, he did put a “No” option for his money question.

But then he asked again.

“You said no, but you really meant “Yes.” I can tell.”

Tom Steyer only sent one survey email this week, and he did not ask for money. He just wanted thoughts on the debate.

That’s the whole survey.

Andrew Yang sent 2 survey emails, but he took a slightly unorthodox approach: he flat out said the survey was for money. He had two ads, and he asked the Yang Gang which ad they preferred, saying the ad that brought in the most money would be played more.

Pete Buttigieg sent the above survey in 2 emails, while Deval Patrick made his email debut with a survey in a single email.

He hasn’t asked for money yet.

Finally, Amy Klobuchar sent 2 emails with a survey. Unlike all of the others, Klobuchar actually gave people the option to say no.

Finally, a real no! Sort of.

So, as you can see, most politicians do the guilt-manipulation tactic to get money out of surveys. Does that make it okay? Absolutely not. But is it a big deal?

Not really, in the grand scheme of things. But still. Details matter.

Who wants money? Everyone wants money!

On Friday, John Delaney sent an email with the sensational subject of “my opponents aren’t telling the truth, folks.”

Friends, I wanted to give you a quick update about where we are in this campaign:

First, I’ll be frank — I’m worried about the state of our party.

Our Democratic nominee has to be consistently telling the truth — telling a better — and realistic — story about the future we can share together.

But there are too many important issues facing the American people today that my fellow candidates are choosing to ignore.

We need universal health care, but why would we force people off plans that they like? And why would we risk hospitals closing when Medicare for All lowers their reimbursement rates? And why would we ignore rural America when Trump’s trade policies have given us the opportunity to show that we can offer them a better economic future? When will we stop villainizing businesses and entrepreneurs and instead start focusing on helping workers AND businesses succeed in our economy? And why are Democrats risking four more years of Trump by putting forth half-baked plans that voters will see right through?

These truths are integral to winning back the White House next November.

I’m committed to continuing to stand by our platform — but I need to know you stand with me. Will you show your support today by chipping in $15 right now?

I can attest that the best economic outcomes are achieved when the government, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector work well together.

We have to stop thinking in silos with “government-only” solutions, or “business-only” solutions, and we have to start living up to our full potential by embracing collaboration and common-sense solutions.

Collaboration plus common purpose equals progress.

This is what made America the world’s greatest superpower, and is what will keep our country prosperous and secure for our children and grandchildren.

Everything from health care reform, gun violence prevention, the opioid crisis, climate change, and the national debt can be addressed by real, common-sense solutions that we can implement if we work together.

Together, you and me, progressives, moderates, independents, even moderate Republicans… we can get the job done. That’s the solution.

This election is too important for us to get it wrong. Let’s not wake up on November 4th wishing we had done something differently. Let’s make real change today.

John Delaney

Delaney has been very vocal in speaking out against the progressive side of the party, but he’s not the only candidate with this sort of message. I wish the people polling at 1% (or lower) would start consolidating behind one of the front runners who has a similar message. At some point, they need to ask themselves what is more important: them becoming President or their ideas being shared by the person who does.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren decided to fill me in on the massive corruption she’s fighting against.

The rich and the powerful have hijacked our democracy. They’ve created a system that works for them — and only them. And to maintain the status quo, they make you think that fighting back isn’t worth your time because you’ll never win.

They want you to feel tired and overwhelmed.

They want you to think that if you could just pick up a few more hours at work, just cut back on the groceries a bit this week, just skip the doctor’s appointment to save money, that you’ll finally get ahead. That everything will be fine.

Because they know the truth. If we line up, shoulder-to-shoulder in this fight, if we organize, and if we lift our voices and demand big, structural change, we can win.

This is our chance to root out corruption in Washington, right at the source. It’s our chance to level the playing field for working families and put political and economic power into the hands of working people.

We’re done with a system that only works for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. We’re done nibbling around the edges, being satisfied by the absolutely bare minimum.

This grassroots movement is about the people — and we’re ready to fight.

Team Warren

I don’t feel tired and overwhelmed, though. (I mean, I do, a little bit, but I was just at a six-year-old’s birthday party yesterday, and that’s why naps were invented.) And I’m not really interested in feeling tired and overwhelmed. I don’t really click with this message that I should be feeling tired and overwhelmed by a game rigged against me, and I really don’t like that it’s coming from a millionaire.

I know the system is broken. I know we need to change it. But I don’t want crazy uncertainty and a period of massive shifts with massive resistance. I want someone who can smoothly merge us into a different lane instead of just jerking the wheel. Revolutionary messages like this one make me empathize with John Delaney more than Elizabeth Warren.

For all the goals that were given to me, very few were actually closed.

Just a quick note about goals: November 15 was the mid-month and mid-Q4 deadline, so everyone was desperately behind and trying to catch up. Perhaps the most noteworthy of them all was that of Cory Booker, who has just under 15,000 donors to go to hit the debate threshold for the December debates. This may sound exciting… but they’ve been “just under 15,000 donors” since November 8. It’s actually telling me that he’s not able to engage new donors. Between that and missing another fundraising deadline, I suspect if Booker doesn’t make it to the December debate stage, we won’t be seeing him in the race much longer.

At least they said thank you the most?

While I think Booker would actually drop out if he didn’t qualify for the December debates, Julian Castro is still clinging on despite missing the November debates. Good news: he hasn’t talked about his mother in a while. Bad news: he’s still blaming everyone else for not being as Woke as he is.

In a moment, I’m going to ask for $5. But first, let me explain why.

I believe deep down Democrats will lose this election if we’re too afraid to take a stand.

That’s why I was the first candidate to call victims of police brutality by name at the debates…

The first candidate to call for decriminalizing our border to stop family separations…

One of the first candidates to acknowledge gun violence is a white supremacy issue…  

The only candidate with the courage to say our primary system doesn’t empower the votes of black women….

I’ve been fighting for what others are afraid to tackle for this entire campaign. I’ve fearlessly had your back. And now I need you to have mine.

I’m counting on you to keep me in this race and get my message out to voters. Can I count in your $5?

Julian Castro

No, Castro, you can’t count in my $5. Can I count on you to examine your polls and realize you’re past the point of bowing out gracefully?

Deval Patrick is on the board!

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!

6 thoughts on “Week 26: November 10-16

  1. By the way, in Pete’s survey, you can actually skip the last question without an answer. So yes, it tricks you, but it doesn’t leave you with zero option to not donate.


    1. Yep, addressed that in the paragraphs following the screenshot of Pete’s survey. You can do that in all the surveys. The fact that he used to not trick you and now he does is the problem.


      1. Oh wow, I’m an idiot. I should really just read the entire thing before commentating. Well, I learned that lesson.


  2. I’m with you abut the surveys that should not force you to donate, for your opinion to be valid. Hope that enough people complaining about that would make campaigns change their attitude.

    Supporters are willing to open their wallets when you find the right tone. Mike Schmul’s email thanking the supporters is one I would have donated through if I was allowed to. And I’m pretty sure good polls also motivate people to help a bit more. Yes, campaigns need money but they have to be smart about it. Pete, #BeBest.

    Keep up the good work!


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