Friday was a black day, which of course meant MERCH SALES! It also meant lectures on the exploitation of workers and a few cracks about how if you want a good deal, you should donate to a campaign.
For all new readers: Welcome! I am currently on the mailing lists of 2 candidates for the Democratic Presidential Nomination! 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!
I signed up to all mailing lists either on May 21 or the day the candidate announced, whichever was later. Using a different email address, I have donated at least $1 to all candidates who have been on a debate stage (I have given additional donations to my preferred candidates through my personal email, but the campaigns have linked the two accounts together and may ask for more as a result).
When showing breakdowns by campaigns, there will usually be 2 numbers. Emails to my non-donor account will be indicated by a darker color/top bar in horizontal bar charts. Emails to my donor account will be indicated by a lighter color/bottom bar.
Unless otherwise specified, all other charts combine the donor and non-donor numbers, as they are roughly 1-for-1, so the percentages and relative differences don’t change much. You can divide the numbers in half to get the rough estimate for what someone not signed up twice would be receiving. The rules I try to follow for the various categories are laid out in The Framework.
If you want specific data on any particular day, feel free to drop a comment!
I believe this is the first time since I started tracking emails that Andrew Yang topped the list with 5 emails in one day, tied with Kamala Harris for first. Joe Biden sent 4 emails on Friday, while Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson only sent 3 each.
Many of the early emails of the day touched on Black Friday in some way or another. There were a few different approaches to the day.
Merch sales were big for Black Friday, of course, as it is a day for shopping. Marianne Williamson started the day with her “Giving Thanks Sale” (though her email subject made it clear it was a Black Friday thing). She provided a code to give me a 10% discount off her entire store, including her new U.S. Department of Peace merch.
Cory Booker also provided a discount code for his Black Friday sale, but he was offering 20% off.
Elizabeth Warren got in on the action too: spend $50 in her store and you’d get 20% off, and if you spent $75, your discount would rise to 25%!
Michael Bennet’s discount code was for 15% off, but he had new merch in his store that it applied to as well.
Steve Bullock had been having a 25% off sale on his store for several days, but he boosted it to 40% off for actual Black Friday. He also gave the offer of 50% off all donations (because due to public matching funds, if you wanted to give $10, you could actually give $5 and then he would get $10! 50% off donations, see?)
Julian Castro had a bit of a different twist to his Black Friday sale. Instead of offering a discount on his merch, he pledged to give 10% of all store proceeds to several organizations local to San Antonio that do work helping feed and shelter disadvantaged people. Castro had spent time on Thanksgiving volunteering at one such organization with his family. It’s good to see him giving back.
Finally, Andrew Yang launched his cheapest t-shirt yet, just for Black Friday. For just $15, you too can tell the world to Vote Yang!
Amy Klobuchar went a route similar to Steve Bullock’s. She knows how much we look for deals and getting the most bang for our buck on Black Friday, so if we chose to make a campaign contribution, she would guarantee that every dollar went toward raising her standing in the polls.
Joe Biden was less cute in his ask, instead suggesting that I keep his campaign in mind when considering where I want to spend money this Black Friday. (Though I do need to say that the point of Black Friday isn’t to go “hmm, where can I spend my money?” but rather “hmm, where can I get the best deals?”)
Of course, Black Friday isn’t just about buying stuff as cheap as possible. Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer made the point that Black Friday was actually about the exploitation of workers. While Sanders suggested I combat this by joining the over a million working-class people who gave him their hard-earned money (only $2.70!), Steyer had a petition for me to sign to stand with workers.
Funny how I felt that the billionaire was actually the one being more thoughtful toward workers as he talked about their exploitation. Remember, Sanders refuses to let rich people shoulder any of the burden of his campaign costs. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s that he doesn’t let them.
Not every candidate was focused on Black Friday. Saturday marks the end of the month, after all, which means FUNDRAISING.
Joe Biden decided to test a couple messages throughout the day. At 8:14 AM ET, he was telling me how his team was up early to crunch their numbers, and the 9,000 donations he still needed before the end of the month was looking insurmountable.
The team was up at the crack of dawn post-Thanksgiving to crunch some numbers around our budget in case we miss our fundraising goal tomorrow. And unfortunately, it’s not looking good.
The truth is, we made our December budget what it absolutely needs to be if we want to win the primary.
But if we can’t hit our November fundraising goal, we aren’t going to be able to greenlight all of it, and cuts will have to be made. Cuts that our teams out in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina really can’t afford.
We have to get 9,000 more donations in the door by tomorrow night to hit our goal. So, can you get us there with just another $5 in the next hour?Greg Schultz, Campaign Manager, Biden for President
By 12:07 PM ET, they had gained a thousand donations and were very happy about their fundraising.
Here’s the bad news: Lindsey Graham is launching a bogus investigation into Joe and his family in order to help his buddy, Donald Trump.
But here’s the good news: With only 24 hours left, we’re just 8,000 donations short of Saturday’s end-of-month fundraising goal. If we can get there, we’ll have the resources to fight back and set the record straight.
So look, it’s never been more important to hit one of our goals. But we can’t do it without the help of committed Joe Biden supporters like you.Team Joe
Another four hours and 1,000 donations later, at 4:16 PM ET (so, for those of you not good at math, the exact same donation rate as earlier in the day), this was no longer good news.
Friends — I’m going to let you in on a little secret that campaign people know well:
November is a TOUGH month for fundraising. People are home for the holidays and they want to tune politics out. I get it.
But look, as our budget director, I can’t relax. November is also our most critical month for fundraising. As we speak, we are deciding how many organizers we can hire, how many TV ads we can run and how many campaign offices we can open.
And if we don’t raise 7,000 more donations by tomorrow’s end-of-month fundraising deadline, I’m going to be forced to make some tough cuts when I get back to the office.
So please, I really need you to make your first donation today and help me turn this around. Donate $5 and help us hit our goal and make sure we are in a position to win this election »Amanda Brockbank, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis, Biden for President
I realize that these panicked cries are largely attempts to wring more cash out of their donors, trying to instill a sense of urgency or victory to engage different segments of their audience. But to swing between despair and joy over the exact same fundraising rates in the exact same day? I feel like it would be far more effective to not draw attention to the marketing ploy by at least spacing it out over several days.
Of course, that assumes people actually read the emails. Let’s be honest, how many of you read political emails? I’m the only one I know crazy enough to get this in-depth!
A downside of reading every single email is that I notice when trends shift, and I can get really upset. When Beto O’Rourke changed from being angry about the issues to being angry about the people who didn’t agree with him on how to handle the issues, I mourned the loss of his passion for fighting injustice. When Julian Castro started writing emails in complete paragraphs, I demanded to know why he hadn’t done this from the beginning.
The latest casualty of changing trends is Pete Buttigieg. Just the other day, I was thinking about how one thing I liked about him was that he never framed his campaign emails with what others were doing. He never talked about his poll numbers, never talked about his fellow Democrats, almost never mentioned Trump…
We need to beat Donald Trump, and it’s becoming clear Pete is the right candidate to do it.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a trend in national general election polls, and wanted to make sure you saw them. CNN, The Washington Post, and Emerson Polling all show that Pete beats Trump in a head to head matchup.
And recently, some of these polls have Pete beating Trump by a larger margin than any other candidate in the Democratic field.
So today, knowing that we have the candidate who can beat Donald Trump next November, we’re launching an end-of-month fundraising goal of $250,000. If you’re proud to be on the team that will beat Trump next November, chip in and help us reach our November fundraising goal.
We can win in 2020.
Pete can beat Donald Trump. And he’s the leader we need to pick up the pieces and move our country forward after Donald Trump.
But we have a tough primary election ahead of us, and we need to continue growing the campaign.Pete for America
Not only did Buttigieg throw that “the more we talk about Trump, the less we’re talking about you,” out the window with this email, but he also sent a repeat “Hey, did you see this” version of the email a few hours later. I had to deal with Mr. Peach in my inbox twice in one day. (And that’s not counting all the crying Joe Biden was doing about him.)
Sending substantive emails regularly can be difficult, I know. And Buttigieg’s emails are still better than the bulk of the field’s, especially now that Beto is no longer running. But nonetheless, it’s disappointing to see what used to be gems in my inbox become just another piece of political spam I wish I were ignoring.