At 1:27 PM ET, on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, Kamala Harris, Senator of California, declared that financial struggles were driving the end of her campaign.
After 316 days, Kamala had sent me 469 emails to my non-donor account and 309 to my donor account. In October, she stopped sending me donor emails and I started feeling genuine concern. Purging less-lucrative emails is one tiny way a campaign could save some money, and if they were resorting to the tiny ways, they had run out of big ones.
Kamala was fairly evenly spread throughout the work week when it came to her emails, with just a slight uptick at the end of the week (payday for most people). Her weekends were drastically quieter.
Like with her days, Kamala kept her emails mostly between 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM ET. The bulk of her night emails came around debates and end of month deadlines.
If there was one thing Kamala was after, it was money. Always money. Always similar donation buttons. Her spread of $5/$25/$50/$100/$250/Other changed during the summer to start at $10 instead of $5. Her $25 option would occasionally hop up to $28, but it never lingered for long. The button creep was honestly the first indication that she was genuinely struggling for money and not just making up stuff to tug at your donation heartstrings.
Kamala was almost always scrambling to catch up. Over a quarter of her emails were fretting about a deadline they weren’t on track for meeting, though she only informed me about 4 missed deadlines (and only 10 made ones). Kamala’s best fundraising moment came after the first debate, when she raised $2 million in the 24 hours after stepping onto the debate stage. Beyond that…
Well, beyond that, Kamala frequently had very unhappy tones to her emails. Every fret about not making a goal dinged her tone. When even Kamala can’t get enthusiastic about her chances of success, it’s hard for her supporters to echo the sentiment.
Kamala did frequently sign her own emails, sending just over a third of them under her own name. Occasionally, her husband, Doug, would write a wonderfully heart-warming email (and he’d sign it “Doug (Kamala’s Husband)”), or her sister, Maya, who was the chairwoman of her campaign, would write something.
Kamala did like to explain the importance of a donation, but she didn’t go overboard on the rhetorical devices. She did like to tell me the truth quite a bit, and while she often casually thanked me, she did take time to say proper thank yous occasionally.
My biggest gripe with Kamala’s emails were that they were always about the money. She rarely sent an email that didn’t include her donation buttons, and many of her emails were purely about her fundraising and nothing else. Kamala almost never talked directly about her policies, and after she unveiled her own version of Medicare for All, I can’t recall her ever sending me a policy-oriented email.
By the end of her campaign, Kamala was frequently sending 3 emails a day with no real substance. Money, money, money, her merch is available, money money, survey? Money.
Kamala did have some great color scheming, with her yellow, coral, and purple playing well together, especially on the black backgrounds. She had a lot of energy and a lot of passion, and an enjoyable wit, but ultimately, timing and finances got her down. Kamala didn’t seem set up to capitalize on her breakout moment in the first debate and was unable to sustain her momentum. Her lack of campaign structure was wildly reported on, and Kamala failed to recapture the moment from the first debate. Unfortunately in politics, self-fulfilling prophecies are rampant. Kamala was struggling to raise money, so people stopped giving her money because why would they back a losing candidate? Then she struggled to raise money even more, and people gave her even less…
Combined with the California presidential ballot filing deadline on December 6, Kamala had to make a tough choice between letting her campaign limp along and hope the sixth debate could give her an infusion of cash and hope again, or closing up shop and bowing out before she had to face potentially poor numbers in California–low support for a Presidential run in her home state could indicate a primary challenger for her Senate run when she is up for re-election in 2022.
Unfortunately, the stars didn’t align for Kamala. She brought a lot to the table but couldn’t get it organized in time. I am definitely looking forward to her future in politics, though… and I can’t wait to see her at the Trial of Donald Trump in the Senate next year.
So long, Kamala, and thank you for breaking barriers.