Over the past week, Cory Booker reminded me of Beto O’Rourke, and not in a good way. Julian Castro reminded me why I’ll never vote for him in a primary election. And Joe Biden reminded me about strangers with nice cars.
For all new readers: Welcome! I am currently on the mailing lists of 8 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!
Over the course of the past seven days, Pete Buttigieg sent me the most emails with 26. Joe Biden only sent out 24, while Julian Castro was lagging far behind with 22. Tom Steyer continued to prove that he really doesn’t care about me beside getting me to count for the debates, as he has continued to not send me a single donor email beyond his initial one.
Julian Castro and Cory Booker held out hope that a last minute miracle (or massive amount of ads) would give them four qualifying polls before the deadline. Unfortunately, and realistically, that turned out not to be happen. Both Castro and Booker declared that they were not out of the race and that they would, in fact, continue to fight because they both saw a path to victory which did not include the debates.
While this was expected behavior from Castro, it seriously disappointed me with Booker. One of the things I had appreciated about Booker was how, at the end of September, he quite frankly said (and I paraphrase) “If I do not have the support, then I do not have the support, and I will pull out of the race so as not to take up resources that could go towards candidates who do have support and a real chance to win.”
At the time, I trusted Booker’s integrity and words. I was disappointed that his campaign was struggling financially when the voters were still interested in what he had to say based on qualifying polls, so I threw him some money. I encouraged others to donate as well. His was still a valuable voice, in my personal opinion.
Now that the support has changed from monetary support to actual support support, Booker’s tone has changed. Now he is demanding that he still deserves a spot because of the color of his skin, because no one else on stage has a different skin color.
What happened to the man who understood that if there is no support, it is egotistical to continue? What happened to the honorable candidate who could recognize when a moment wasn’t his moment?
Booker’s change of heart seems to have happened when Kamala Harris dropped out of the race and not, as Castro’s did, when it looked inevitable that he wouldn’t make a debate stage. I am actually struck by the similarities to Beto O’Rourke’s last reboot.
Both Booker and Beto experienced a massive blow to their worldview. With Beto, it was the shooting in his normally safe hometown of El Paso. With Booker, it was watching his incredibly skilled and intelligent friend and colleague’s campaign crash and abruptly die. Both grieved, in their own way, and then both jumped back into their campaign, and this is the important part, without processing their grief.
Beto went off the rails about guns and a gun ban and gun confiscation, and yes, his frustration and anger over the ineptitude of current Congressional actions to literally save American lives is valid and a worthy cause to champion, but the way he did it seemed almost unhinged and definitely uncharacteristically angry. Gone were his moving emails about the wrongs in the world and how he would rectify them, and instead rants about how people who didn’t agree with him weren’t doing enough to save lives started filtering into my inbox.
The evidence of this being mishandled grief and shock, in my opinion, came from an email he sent me months after he had dropped out. He talked about how he and his family went to an art installation on the border that was a bunch of lights, and when the lights intersected, the people angling the lights could actually talk with each other. It was full of wonder at how amazing humans were, no matter the country or the skin color, and upset about the injustices but ultimately a quiet belief that things would one day be better. It was, in short, the old Beto, once he had a chance to properly take time to breathe and mourn and heal.
Booker is now angry and upset over race and the injustice of racial minorities not being on the debate stage. He is attempting to overrule the DNC’s rules by petitioning them to loosen the criteria, and he strong-armed all of the current debaters (and Castro) into signing his letter. Tom Perez, chairman of the DNC, refused to change the rules despite this show of support, saying that the January debate will again require both polling numbers and donor numbers, and it would reflect the level of interest a candidate should have obtained by this point in the race.
Like with Beto, the issue Booker is choosing to hang his campaign on is absolutely a worthy one. Racial injustice in the U.S. is a huge problem. But also like with Beto, Booker is not approaching the issue in a calm and measured way. He is allowing his emotions to run hot and overwhelm his logic. Personally, I feel he is ultimately hurting his campaign by throwing out the sensible politician who can see writing on the wall and instead stomping his feet and shouting like Castro has been doing.
“I’m not doing the polling,” Mr. Perez said. “I’m a huge fan of Cory Booker. I think the world of him. I worked with him dating back to when he was mayor. And if voters are disappointed that he hasn’t qualified, then when they answer the phone, they need to express their preference for Cory Booker.”New York Times
For all their policies and ideas, the question ultimately comes down to a simple one: who can beat Donald Trump? The person who can energize the base and activate the most voters will have the best chance of that.
Right now, that isn’t Cory Booker, no matter what he’s saying.
While those who were freshly cut from the debate stage were upset and those who did make it were suggesting watch parties, Marianne Williamson wanted me to know that she was having the livestream of a lifetime, and for just a small donation of $20.20, I too could watch this historical moment as she and Deepak Chopra were onstage together.
There is something about the hype for this event that is seriously putting me off. I feel like it’s some sort of scam. The more I read about Chopra, the more convinced I am that he’s only in it for the money.
Of course, that’s the same thing I feel about Williamson now too. As long as she says she’s a candidate, she can get the American people, mostly women, to give her money to continue to travel the country to talk up her philosophy and sell her books. Talk about a gravy train…
In the meantime, Julian Castro has been talking to me about what being a good leader is or means.
Julián was the first candidate to call for the president to be impeached, and removed from office.
What we’ve seen over the last several weeks is an overwhelming case that President Trump abused his office for his own political advantage. He obstructed the investigation into that abuse. He put his own personal benefit ahead of the national security of America.
We’re close to the deadline to qualify for the next debate. We’re also continuing to grow our grassroots campaign on the ground in Early States and beyond.
This email, with the subject “integrity matters.” is simply not true. Tom Steyer was calling for Trump’s impeachment years before Castro was. So was Beto, though he is no longer a candidate. Castro has never let something silly like “facts” actually get in the way of a good, heartfelt plea for sympathy. Nor has he let capital letters get in his way. (On Twitter, Castro declared himself the most truthful candidate.)
There are some candidates in this race who believe, or at least claim, that they can persuade Congressional Republicans and Mitch McConnell to pass their agenda.
They forget eight years where Republicans stonewalled everything Barack Obama did. They forget that Republicans who took an oath to defend the constitution are protecting Donald Trump as we speak.
Our next president can’t have any illusions—we’ll have to fight to pass our agenda.
If you believe that with the right words and with watered-down proposals on health care, immigration, and climate change, Congressional Republicans will magically agree with you – you shouldn’t be leading the fight against Donald Trump.
If we want change, we’re going to have to fight for it. It’s about not just winning back the presidency, it’s about exciting a new generation of voters and rebuilding the coalition that has elected Democrats in every important election.
As president, I’m going to work across the aisle to build consensus and get things done. But I won’t be naïve about the challenges, or sacrifice my principles to get there.
With the right candidate, we can ignite a coalition to take back the White House, win the Senate, and expand our control in the House. And together, wish Donald Trump “adiós” next January.
And we’re going to do it together.
I do agree with some of what Castro has to say here. The Republicans as they were with Obama stonewalled everything. They’re not going to behave just because the next Democratic President asks them nicely. I also agree that the right candidate can ignite a coalition to take back the White House and the Senate and expand control of the House.
I have not seen a single shred of evidence that Castro is capable of being that candidate.
There is frequently talk of “rebuilding the Obama coalition,” that is, activating the people who came out in droves for Obama. Except that cannot be the focus. The Obama coalition came out for Obama. What the candidates need to do is figure out what their coalition is going to be, and activate that to the same scale as the Obama coalition. After all, it is easier to be yourself than it is to be an imitation of someone else.
Throughout this campaign, I have been accused of being mean. I have been told that I am too tough on my opponents.
Well I have news for my critics – people who come from where I grew up – we are used to being told to sit down, to wait our turn, to stop standing up for ourselves. We know where that language is coming from.
My brother and I went we were the first in our family to college and law school, but I know that many others in my situation never had the opportunities that we were afforded.
Aimin, let me be clear, this isn’t just about me. It’s about the millions of young Americans across the country who face the same struggles I did and no longer see any opportunity for them to make a better life for themselves.
The challenges we face as a country are vast. We cant be afraid of making people uncomfortable by talking about structural problems that need to be tackled head on.
Donald Trump doesn’t understand this at all.
He has no interest in helping anyone but himself. He puts children in cages at the border, cuts live-saving SNAP benefits for hundreds of thousands of Americans, while at the same time billing the government for stays at his properties in order to enrich himself.
Aimin, I’ve spent my whole career fighting to expand opportunity to all Americans – that’s I why I am the only candidate in this race who has made fighting poverty, homelessness and food insecurity the centerpiece of my campaign.
I will never stop fighting, and I hope you join me and stand by my side. If you are able to, please consider chipping in $27 or whatever you can give right now to send Donald Trump and his cronies a message they can’t ignore.
We can beat Trump in 2020 – but only if we nominate a candidate who will show the millions of Americans who believe that the government can and should work for them, not just those at the top.
Castro continued the week with explaining how he is dismissing concerns that he’s being too mean, not seeming to realize that part of the backlash against Trump is precisely because he is so mean.
It’s been said that there are two types of candidates: ones who want to get elected to be something, and the ones who want to get elected to do something.
The first is easier and too common. These are the candidates who strictly follow polls and listen to consultants to do what’s most popular.
Then there are campaigns like this one that stick to their morals, stand up for the most vulnerable, speak out on tough issues, and put forward plans that would fundamentally overhaul our health care, immigration, education, and housing systems.
We’ve chosen to do what’s hard. We’re going to work day in and day out to make sure we leave no one behind, and build toward a future where everyone counts.
With all I’ve heard from Castro’s campaign already, all of the braggadocious descriptions of how humble he is, all his talk about his mother and his grandmother and his tough childhood, and his very minimal talk of what he would do for the country or who he cares about outside of himself, this email rings incredibly false to me. If this were the only message I’d ever received from Castro, I’d probably like it. There are a couple other candidates who could send this message and I’d trust it and believe in it. However, due to the incredibly successful campaign by his campaign to paint him as a bratty child who whines when he doesn’t get his way, this email made me simultaneously laugh and cringe.
What makes a good leader?
I have been reflecting on this question this week since my town hall in Iowa to discuss the changes we need to make in our primaries to better reflect the diversity of our party and our nation.
While I was on stage, Donald Trump spent the day mocking a 16-year-old climate change activist on Twitter (because she won an award that he coveted) and lying about those testifying against him on Capitol Hill.
Being a leader is about telling voters the truth, regardless of whether they want to hear it.
Being a leader is about taking principled stands – even if they are unpopular – because it is the right thing to do.
Being a leader is about staying true to what you believe in, especially when special interests may be pressuring you to compromise your values.
Too often in this primary, we have seen candidates who are unwilling to speak out about injustice and inequality because they fear it would hurt them politically.
I will never do that.
While Donald Trump is hell-bent on lying and deceiving the American people, I’m telling them the truth and speaking up for those who are often left out.
While he is doing everything in his power to divide and distract Americans, I am working to unite them and address the issues that are important to their families.
He wants to divide us and speak only to his base. I want to be a president for everyone.
That’s the kind of leadership we need in the White House. That’s what I’m fighting for.
This email highlighted some fundamental blind spots in Castro’s idea of what makes a good leader.
A good leader is someone who leads by example, modeling the sort of behavior that is acceptable. A good leader accepts responsibility for mistakes, both their own and of those beneath them. A good leader can elevate others and inspire them to reach their full potential. A good leader is tactful. A good leader is gracious. A good leader gathers a good team around them and provides a direction for that team to go.
Someone who says unpopular things and refuses to budge on their ideals is not a good leader. That’s not to say a good leader shouldn’t speak the truth even if it’s not popular or shouldn’t hold to strong ideals, but a good leader also needs to be willing to listen and take advice, to course-correct, and to package unpleasant truths in a way that can be easily swallowed and digested. It’s not enough to tell someone they’re destroying the climate, for example. A good leader would help them realize how they can help save it.
I find it absolutely incredible that Castro’s own campaign has made me completely distrust the man and has very likely poisoned me against ever liking him in any future political endeavor he attempts. It just goes to show that how you email actually is important.
If people actually read the emails.
With the holidays came a lot of merchandise offers, and I frequently grew very angry at people who didn’t understand the difference between sweaters and sweatshirts. Julian Castro offered a free sticker for $10+, while Bernie Sanders offered a free book for any donation.
Joe Biden definitely won creepiest email of the week, including this GIF in an email inviting me to join him for dinner on his campaign’s expense.
Nice car, though.
Amy Klobuchar sent many peppy, upbeat emails asking for money, talking about how strong her campaign was these days, how much she was growing, how much her field organizers did… Klobuchar never said she was behind on her goal, but instead asked me to help keep her momentum up. I really appreciated her enthusiasm.
Especially since Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were fretting about being behind on their unnamed goals. Sanders and Warren never want to tell me how much money they need, just that what they have isn’t good enough. (Sanders, however, does tell me that how much money doesn’t actually matter, it’s just the number of donors that matter.)
Pete Buttigieg is back on track for hitting 2 million donations by the end of the month, while Elizabeth Warren is aiming for 1 million donors. Andrew Yang is trying to get $2 million by Monday.
Finally, Tom Steyer has begun a countdown to Christmas with the Twelve Days of Tom.
Day Twelve: 12-year term limits for Congress.
Day Eleven: 11 months until election day.
I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the rest of them.