Days 215 and 216: 12/21/19-12/22/19

If there’s one lesson you should take away from But Their Emails!, it’s that you should never, never, set a daily goal. This is something Michael Bennet and Elizabeth Warren are learning.


For all new readers: Welcome! I am currently on the mailing lists of Joe Biden and Donald Trump, though I have previously been on the mailing lists of 28 Democratic candidates! 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!

It took some time for the Trump emails to kick in, so I started officially tracking his list on July 7. I have been tracking Biden’s for longer, but I will start comparing them as of July 7. All of these emails are going to a new email, and I have not donated, filled out surveys, signed petitions, or otherwise interacted with either candidate’s emails.

The rules I try to follow for the various categories are laid out in The Framework.

Pete Buttigieg can’t resist sending emails.

Once again, Pete Buttigieg was the neediest candidate, sending a whopping 11 emails over the two-day weekend. Joe Biden trailed him with only 8 emails, while Julian Castro and Elizabeth Warren were the third most prolific emailers with just over half the volume of Buttigieg, at 6 apiece.

As even a split as an odd number can be.

Emails are difficult this time of year, because holidays are here, and people are simultaneously feeling more generous and more stingy at the same time. Tipping goes up, but budgets are stretched tight with holiday gifts. And no candidate wants to be the first to say “Hey, a great present for my campaign would be a lot of money!” That doesn’t, of course, stop them from trying to hint at it.

Tom Steyer offered me a Christmas card to sign.

The promise of stickers and membership cards (for me to print out myself) were heavy in the emails this weekend, but we discussed that yesterday. More impressive was the amount of times I was asked to help someone catch up on their fundraising.

It’s impressive that people are missing their deadlines before they’re even arriving.

Michael Bennet set an ambitious 30-day goal of $700,000 by mid-January, but he’s already emailing me to let me know he’s falling behind his daily goals. Every daily goal he misses makes the next daily goal that much harder to achieve. A one-day goal may be doable, but a 30-day daily goal is absolutely not. His donors are bound to get donor fatigue, and sure enough, they already are. And once you start that cycle of failing to hit your goals, so you make the next one even harder to hit… well, momentum can work against you too.

Elizabeth Warren is never ahead of her goals. Never. When she references them at all, it’s almost always in the context of being behind. For someone who can’t seem to finance her budget on a regular basis, she is keen to brag about who she isn’t accepting money from.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like someone desperately in need of cash is more easily corrupted than someone who isn’t desperately in need of cash.

On the first day, we wanted to get 10,000 donations, but we didn’t hit that mark. That means we need more than 10,000 donations today to get back on track toward hitting our three day goal.

If everyone who reads this email chips in even just a dollar, we’ll reach our goal in no time. But not everyone does that. That’s why we need you. If you’ve been waiting for a good time to make an impact, donating any amount — whether it’s $1, $2, or $5 — will be crucial to our efforts in the next few weeks.

Team Warren

Watch my heart break for her struggles.

The other day, Pete Buttigieg sent an email saying he would not turn away anyone who wanted to help him defeat Donald Trump. While Warren’s weekend emails were worried about her fundraising goals, here was one of Buttigieg’s emails:

Today is the first day of Hanukkah, and Christmas and Kwanzaa are just around the corner. I think it’s safe to say that, no matter when you celebrate, the holiday season is upon us. And whether you celebrate these holidays or something else, or nothing at all, I hope you take these next few days as an opportunity to rest and reflect, to spend time with loved ones, to practice kindness, and, most importantly, to make room for joy.

Joy is important to me, and to this movement — in fact, it’s one of our Rules of the Road, the ten guiding principles that govern our campaign. Part of the Pete for America mission statement reads, “Amid the great challenge we have accepted, let us be joyful.” I want to echo that sentiment now, to all of you, in light of the holidays: Amid the challenges we face, let us be joyful.

For many Americans, I know this is a particularly divisive, and in many ways dispiriting, moment. The House has impeached the president. The contest to replace Donald Trump is heating up. Many Americans are struggling not even to get ahead, but just to hold onto what they’ve got. What I hope we remember in this moment is that we cannot give in to exhaustion and cynicism.

When the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, we’ll say goodbye to the second decade of this century and ring in 2020. Remember that this 2020 election is our chance to refuse to be taken in by helplessness or cynicism; to choose to define America not by exclusion but by belonging. The trajectory of our nation is still up to us — and that is something to be joyful about. Because the way we keep going, the way we meet those challenges with strength and conviction, is by making room for joy.

Importantly, with joy, comes hope and resilience. Going into this critical year in the life of our nation, I can’t think of qualities we’ll need to draw upon more to fuel the work ahead.

So this holiday season, however you celebrate, I hope we all have a chance to spend some quality time with family, friends, and loved ones. I hope we take this chance to take a breath, remember the values we share, and recharge for the weeks and months ahead. And I hope we all make room for joy, however and wherever we can.

Pete Buttigieg

I know, I know, it’s not fair to contrast a message of Buttigieg’s not asking for money against Warren’s asking for money. But Warren didn’t send me a similar message to Buttigieg’s this weekend, or in fact, any time in recent memory.

Right now, we’re in the most critical period we’ll ever have in this election, and we need to kick things into high gear to run the strongest campaign possible in the last weeks before voting begins.

So today, we’re launching the three-day “Big, Structural Change Fund” to raise the resources we need to make critical investments in ads, outreach, and organizing ahead of the first primaries. And we’re hoping to fill it with 30,000 donations in the next three days.

But our fund entirely relies on grassroots support from emails just like this one. Can you chip in $10 or anything you can to the Big, Structural Change Fund? Your donation to this fund will support our outreach efforts during this critical time.

Team Warren

We’re sending everyone who joins this movement in the next 24 hours a FREE sticker to thank them for being a part of this fight.

This is a team effort, and Elizabeth can’t fight for big, structural change without people like you — people who are knocking on doors, talking to friends and family about our movement, and chipping in a few dollars at a time to send Elizabeth to the White House.

That’s why we’re so thankful for every single person who has decided they’re tired of the status quo. Hundreds of thousands of people nationwide have made it clear: we need big, structural change, and we’re ready to fight for it.

Team Warren

Our fight for big, structural change is powered by supporters like you — and with less than two months until the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, we need all hands on deck to talk with voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada right now.

Can Elizabeth count on you to call voters? You can do it from anywhere — from home, your favorite coffee shop, or wherever you have an internet connection — right now. Click here to start making calls right now, or pick a time that works for you and we’ll help you get started.

Making phone calls for Elizabeth couldn’t be easier. And right now, talking with voters — sharing why you’re in this fight — is the most important thing you can do to help us grow our grassroots movement and win in 2020.

Team Warren

Yesterday, we launched the “Big, Structural Change Fund.” A three-day, grassroots fundraising push to raise the resources we need to make critical investments in ads, outreach, and organizing ahead of the first primaries.

Our goal is to get 30,000 donations for this fund. We crunched the numbers, and if 213 people from Michigan make a donation now, we can hit this goal and carry out our full outreach plan in the weeks to come.

Can you be one of the 213 people from Michigan we need to donate right now, Aimin? Your contribution will make knocking on doors, buying ads, making calls, sending texts, and hosting community events all possible.

Team Warren

Our grassroots campaign is up against a powerfully important test.

After the end of this month, we’ll release a public report on how much we’ve raised in the past three months and how many people have chipped in to own a piece of our campaign.

On a typical campaign, the candidates will spend the final days of the quarter zipping from big city to big city, hosting swanky fundraisers where you can only meet the candidate if you can write a big check.

Not me. Our campaign is funded by the people we’re fighting for: grassroots donors who want to chip in to a movement they believe in, not because they want special access to my time. That’s how we build a movement that will win in 2020 — and that’s how we deliver big, structural change in 2021.

But right now, we’re behind where we need to be to finish the quarter in the strongest position possible. So I’m counting on help from supporters to help us close the gap.

Time’s running short — if you can, will you please make a contribution to our campaign today? I’ll be deeply grateful.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren has given me literally nothing I can compare to Buttigieg’s message of finding holiday joy this season. And all of Buttigieg’s messages this weekend were positive and uplifting. Of his 11 messages, the following was perhaps his “worst.”

It’s as simple as this: right now, the path to victory depends on a campaign’s ability to swing undecided voters — which, for us, means reaching those voters.

I’ve been working to elect Democrats for nearly 20 years. I’ve been a part of many winning campaigns. I know that Pete has what it takes, and I’m proud of the message we’re sharing and the grassroots infrastructure we’ve been able to build on the ground. But there’s so much more we need to do — and we need you before we run out of time.

We have just 43 days until Iowa. That means we have 43 days to reach as many undecided voters as possible: through on-the-ground organizing, hosting events in key states, and making sure our ads are running on screens across the country. Because when people learn about Pete, and especially when people hear from Pete, they like him. Again, it’s that simple.

We have a plan, and if we can implement it, we know it’ll work. But these goals are expensive.

So I’m asking you to make a contribution right now to make sure we can reach two million donations by the end of the year — so we can spend the next 43 days reaching the people who will decide the outcome of this race: the currently undecided voters.

Jess O’Connell, Senior Advisor, Pete for America

Buttigieg sent a message from a DREAMer who gave him permission to share her story (and who testified that when he talked about it, he was actually sharing her story and not making it his own). He talked about the importance of unifying Americans and rekindling a sense of belonging. He talked about the importance of our relationships with our friends (because they’d take a call from us to talk about how awesome he was, but not from a campaign staffer). Even when Buttigieg is spamming, as he so often does these days, his emails still hold some content and hope.

Elizabeth Warren just likes to talk about how much purer she is. (So does Bernie Sanders, for that matter, who sent me not one but 2 emails this weekend with GIFs of him shaking his head over the thought of taking money from wealthy donors.)

I suspect this will be the graph for the rest of the year.

With the holiday season upon us, my time to write is short, so I’ll leave with just one email from Joe Biden. He told me something “not many campaigns would share.” This is a common tactic of his, but in this email, it seems true: he gave me some email statistics.

Of all the emails he sends, 99% do not get a donation. 80% don’t even get opened. (Gee, I wonder why: do people not like being guilted or scared into giving up their money?) He went on to talk about how if he could get that 1% donation rate to just 2%, he’d easily clear his goals.

So this holiday season, I want to talk a little bit about responsibility. When it comes to fundraising, just about everyone thinks Yeah, but if I don’t give, that’s okay. Someone else will. The problem is that someone else is thinking that same thing about you donating instead of them, foisting the responsibility of raising money onto someone else’s shoulders. In the end, nobody donates, or not enough people donate.

In terms of a Presidential campaign, that tends to result in exactly what I’m seeing now: email upon email upon email. So here’s my challenge to you. If you have decided on a candidate you want to support, send them $1 today. I have some links in my sidebar/footer (depending on where you’re reading this) for a few of the candidates who have given me personalized links to make it easier, but send them a dollar. It’s Christmas. Or Saturnalia. Or whatever midwinter feast holiday you do or do not celebrate. Doing so will pad their FEC report just that much more right before the deadline. You will contribute to making someone else, even if it’s just a lowly intern checking the stats on their phone while their family is bickering in the next room, feel a little bit brighter. And instead of thinking Eh, someone else will do it, I challenge you to think instead If I don’t, no one else will.

So give a dollar. Just a dollar. It’s not going to me, so I won’t know if you did it or not.

But you’ll know.

I have received more than 1,000 emails from Joe Biden.

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