During the weekend, Julian Castro was upset, Amy Klobuchar had a card, and Joe Biden’s email writer stood out to me.
For all new readers: Welcome! I am currently on the mailing lists of 12 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!
Pete Buttigieg was the busiest over the weekend, sending 7 emails in just 2 days. Joe Biden sent 6 emails, while Julian Castro and Bernie Sanders restrained themselves to sending just 5 emails over the weekend.
This weekend was unusual in that it had an exact 50/50 split both in what day emails were sent on and which account received the emails: half of the emails went to my donor account, while the other half went to my non-donor account.
Many campaigns are trying to get on the debate stage, though the deadline for qualifying is this Thursday. Cory Booker and Julian Castro are making big ad pushes to try to get the last 4 polls they need, while Andrew Yang is trying to raise the money to keep his own ads on air: he is just 1 poll shy of qualifying. Tulsi Gabbard, despite also being only 1 poll shy, is not leaning too heavily on her email campaign.
A lot of fuss has been made about the billionaires buying up ads. Castro included this image from a recent project by FiveThirtyEight in one of his emails.
There are several problems with the billionaires flooding the market. First of all, bad for the billionaires, is oversaturation. If someone sees your ad fifty times in a day, they’re not going to feel very kindly toward you–just think about how many times you skip the opening theme song for your favorite tv shows. And those are shows you already are choosing to watch! Now imagine being forced to listen to that theme song over and over and over and over again. It’s already happening in New Hampshire to Tom Steyer, according to a recent article by Politico. It’s only a matter of time before Mike Bloomberg finds himself in the same position.
However, the more insidious problem is scarcity. According to the laws of supply and demand, if demand is high and supply is low, prices go up. If a local Iowa station has 100 “slots” of ad time available, and Steyer has bought 40 and Bloomberg bought 57, that leaves just 3 slots left for every other campaign. With 3 slots and 13 buyers, the station can push the cost of a single slot out of reach for the low-financed candidates, effectively meaning that the two billionaires have stifled the voices of poorer candidates. Sure, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Elizabeth Warren are flush with cash right now, but look again at those numbers: Bloomberg has spent more money in the past two weeks than any one of those candidates brought in over an entire quarter. And Bloomberg is rich enough that he likely doesn’t even notice that money is gone from his accounts.
So, putting those two points together, you have two billionaires who are effectively destroying every other campaign’s opportunity to effectively get their message out en masse, while not being able to actually get their own messages out effectively.
This is where we come in. One thing billionaires cannot buy is natural exposure. If you like a candidate, talk about them to your friends. Share their videos and their ads. Wear their swag. You’re not going to be the fiftieth repeat of the same commercial. You’ll be a fresh take on a voice that may not have been heard in a while.
But, you know, don’t forward bad emails. Just let those die.
Tom Steyer wanted me to share my story with him again, and this time, he specified that it was a video format. Marianne Williamson had so much fun with her Ask Marianne Anything that she did it again on Sunday and asked me to ask her questions. Elizabeth Warren asked for my birthday so she could remember it.
Amy Klobuchar jumped the 2020 gun, pointing out that if I donated now, she’d send me the link to print out my very own 2020 membership card early. Even though it’s not 2020. She offered this several times over the weekend.
It’s been a while since she offered the link to print out my very own 2019 membership card. I wonder if she’s still doing that one.
The other merch offer this weekend came from Bernie Sanders, who was letting me know it was my last chance to get his I endorse Bernie Sanders sticker.
I’m still passing on that, by the way.
Joe Biden is worried about Trump. He stressed that unlike Trump, he was running his campaign with honesty, but Trump was preparing for a rally in Pennsylvania and he just knows Trump will bash Biden.
Honestly, if I were Trump, I wouldn’t bash Biden, just once, just because that would drive him crazy.
The messaging behind campaigns’ asks for money have been all over the place lately. While Biden focuses on Trump and Pete Buttigieg maintains his “donating to someone running for office is an act of hope” messaging, Julian Castro is once again stomping his feet about how Democrats are holding back our potential because we’re not talking about what he cares about in the way he would talk about it.
I do want to pop back to Joe Biden, however. He is having a debate contest for LA, and the woman who wrote his email, Elana Firsht, is very good at injecting her personality into her emails when she’s not talking about the fundraising numbers. I can say this because I actually can remember previous emails she wrote: for the Detroit debate, she was giddy over how amazing Detroit was. Now she’s super jealous that if I win the Biden debate contest, I’ll get to hang out with Michelle Kwan, Olympic gold medalist figure skater.
There are very few campaign staffers I recognize by name who write these emails. Elana has been added to that list of standout writers.