This past week was quite hectic, what with the holiday and the end of the month! Joe Biden lost track of his emotions, Julian Castro reveled in his original form, and Marianne Williamson asked me to respond to the statement that resonated with me.
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!
Kamala Harris sent 24 emails this week, while Joe Biden was barely more restrained at 23. Julian Castro sent the third most emails, with a total of 22.
Joe Sestak only sent 1 email this week, which is a bit unusual for him.
An asterisk needs to be put after Pete Buttigieg’s numbers: I tried to change my subscription to his emails on my personal account and ended up missing out on approximately 4 donor emails on Saturday. I’m attempting to get this straightened out ASAP so I can get back on his donor list.
Thanksgiving fell on Thursday this week, which drove the number of emails down severely. Only Marianne Williamson and Steve Bullock sent multiple emails on the holiday. However, Saturday marked the last day of the month, which meant email counts skyrocketed. Instead of dropping for the weekend, I received 90 emails on Saturday alone.
With the end of the month came a huge swath of fundraising emails, as campaigns struggled to hit their goals before the month was over. Many campaigns were expressing worry over not being on track: even campaigns that didn’t state their goals, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were telling me they were behind. Pete Buttigieg was giving me updates without the drama to his end-of-month goal, though he did not comment on the fact that this was his very first end-of-month goal not tied to an FEC deadline.
Joe Biden could not decide if he was happy or sad about his fundraising rates. He sent me emails oscillating from “We’re doing great!” to “We’re way behind!” sometimes within the same day. However, his Saturday emails took the cake.
At 4:04 PM ET on Saturday, Biden was in his last 4,500 donations to hit his goal of 30,000 by the end of the month, and things were looking great. Incredible, actually. That was the word he used.
An hour later, at 5:05 PM ET, Biden hadn’t managed to pull in a single donor and was despairing that their recovered ground would be lost.
Julian Castro was another candidate on a roller coaster this week. After failing to qualify for the November debates, he seemed to reboot (at least his email strategy). He started writing in complete paragraphs and would talk about people struggling in America and how he was speaking up for them and being their voice and was therefore critical to include on the debate stage.
After days of this, I was prepared to say that Castro had turned a page and was trying a new strategy to his campaign, one that actually maybe had a chance of connecting with people.
Oh boy, was I wrong. You can rip the humble away from the man, but you can’t keep the man away from the humble.
Humbly asking, respectfully asking, talking about his immigrant grandmother and his West Side childhood… this is a masterclass in Castro emails. All it needed was some ellipses…
And maybe a request for gifts…
I also noted, with interest, that Castro was asking for donations of $2.70. This is a number I associate with Bernie Sanders, who has been asking for donations of $2.70 for months and months now. What I find very interesting is that when I first started this blog, Castro had buttons asking for $37 donations. That was a number I associated with Pete Buttigieg, who had once asked for $37 donations in honor of his age. At the time, I had wondered if Castro was just taking the odd amounts other candidates were asking for in the hopes that they had somehow focus-group-tested them to see if they would actually trigger more donations.
Now I’m definitely thinking he’s just copying his opponents.
There was a lot of talk about Thanksgiving and Black Friday over the past week, taking up most of the News Events topics. Pete Buttigieg sent out a series of emails breaking down some of his key policies into easily-digestible (and easily-shareable) talking points for Thanksgiving gatherings, while Elizabeth Warren tried to shoehorn her policy discussions into typical Thanksgiving talk, such as slicing the pie.
Honestly, I was surprised more candidates didn’t do this. Thanksgiving is notorious for sparking political discussions, after all. You’d think prepping your supporters to share information about you would be a good thing.
Of course, immediately after Thanksgiving comes Black Friday, and with Black Friday came countless merch sales. Many campaigns offered discounts on their swag (see yesterday’s BTE for more details!). Marianne Williamson extended her discount offer into the weekend with a discount code of PEACE PACT actually giving 20% off, which is a greater discount than her Black Friday discount code. Michael Bennet also extended his sale, though he kept his discount at 15%.
While the standard ways of asking for money were plentiful (You’ll get a call from Tulsi Gabbard! Donate $1 to get a tartan tie enamel pin from Tom Steyer! Your donation will be matched by Steve Bullock! Please donate, Joe Biden desperately needs the money), there was one way of asking that I hadn’t seen before.
Marianne Williamson asked me to give a donation based on whichever statement resonated the most with me.
I can’t decide if I liked this tactic or not. On the one hand, it was different. No other candidate had tried it before (which means it’ll probably be done by at least five others in the last two weeks of December). However, I didn’t care for the amount I was being asked for being dictated by the statement that resonated with me. But then again, the statements did include commentary on how much was being donated, so it didn’t feel duplicitous.
I guess I’ll have to see what it looks like when other campaigns try it out.