Christmas brought a lull this week, but the emails are pouring in faster and faster as the year comes to a closes. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have dwarfed the competition with their donation asks, but Pete Buttigieg is still sweeping the field in terms of email volume.
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!
Pete Buttigieg is taking my inbox by storm with a massive 32 emails in just 7 days. That is just three emails shy of 5 emails a day.
Joe Biden, with 25 emails in 7 days, is three emails shy of 4 emails a day.
We have another drop before the third place emailer, Elizabeth Warren with only 22 emails. Warren, who revealed this week that she is far off track of making a record-breaking quarter, has sent a full 10 emails fewer than Pete Buttigieg, averaging just barely 3 emails a day.
And remember, with all these massive email volumes… this past week held Christmas, which most candidates decided was not an appropriate time for emailing.
Fearing the “holiday hole,” as Tulsi Gabbard called it, campaigns ratcheted up their emails prior to Christmas Eve. They paused over the holiday, mostly, and then started up again on Thursday, though it took a day for them to return to their pre-holiday furor. FEC deadlines trump weekend lulls, and Saturday was the busiest day of the week.
There were many “News Events” emails this week due to the holidays counting as something news-worthy, but unquestionably, fundraising was on everyone’s minds. The candidates were not shy about setting fundraising goals, with many declaring their most ambitious goals to date:
Elizabeth Warren wanted to raise $20 million by the end of the year, though she already had $17 million, so her goal was $3 million.
Andrew Yang also set a goal of $3 million just before the holidays, and then was shocked when fundraising immediately plummeted during Christmas.
Bernie Sanders is aiming to get a total of 5 million total donations by the end of the year. He has over 1 million donors already.
(Editor’s Note: Growing up, spellcheck always corrected my name, Aimin, to aiming. I would read “Aimin-G? What even is Aimin-G? That’s not a word!” It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that Aimin-G and aiming were the same word. [We’re talking college, I think])
Pete Buttigieg is angling for 2 million total donations by the end of the year.
Tulsi Gabbard has an end-of-year goal of $1 million, but her finance team doesn’t think they’ll be able to make it. She has maintained her optimism, however.
Technically, Marianne Williamson also has a $1 million goal, but she almost never talks about it. I honestly don’t think she’s genuinely trying to win at this point, but just trying to milk the campaign for as much as she can get before she’s forced to close up shop.
Cory Booker’s goal isn’t his most ambitious, but he’s after $800,000 to finish the quarter off where he needs to be.
Michael Bennet’s ambitious goal of $700,000 is due to end in mid-January, but he’s basically been saying he needs this money to stay in the race through New Hampshire, where he is pinning all his hopes.
Joe Biden is aiming for 500,000 donations this quarter, and he can’t decide if he’s on track or far behind. Every time he sends an email about it, he switches between “It’s looking good!” and “We’ll never make it!”
Julian Castro hasn’t been giving me a concrete goal, but he keeps stressing that he’s surging (4% in one national poll one time! He’s in it to win it!). John Delaney has resurfaced to let me know that this FEC deadline is his toughest test yet. He’s been so quiet, even I almost forgot he was running. Deval Patrick also hasn’t set any firm goals, but he’s been talking about how this FEC deadline is more important to his campaign than anyone else’s because it’s his first. He’s actually actively emailing me now, about once a day, trying to get me to become a founding member.
Tom Steyer has a goal of 225,000 donors by January 10 so he can qualify for the debate stage. Money doesn’t matter to him. He doesn’t need it, except to get in the debates.
Mike Bloomberg isn’t even bothering with that level of dedication. Who needs the debates? He’s just so thrilled with our support that has carried him this far already.
While many candidates are doubling down on their fundraising asks and the average donation ask is rising, there were a surprising number of volunteer requests. Some were simple: phone bank for Elizabeth Warren or sign up for a training class on hosting events for Joe Biden, but many of them were asking for volunteers to come to Iowa, especially around the caucuses. Biden actually explained the importance of this.
Winning the Iowa Caucus is incredibly expensive. There are 99 counties across Iowa. And there are over 1,600 voting locations for the caucus.
Because of the unique way the Iowa Caucus works, it’s imperative to have as many boots on the ground as possible to move voters into your corner. A lot of people don’t realize this, but when you show up to caucus, supporters and staff of other campaigns will come over to you to persuade you to change your mind and support their candidate instead.
It’s not a normal primary where you just show up to vote and head home in a matter of minutes. There are often multiple rounds of voting, and it can take hours!
We have to make sure that we have every resource at our disposal to have as many Joe Biden supporters and staff organizing before the caucus and on the day of the caucus to carry Joe to victory.Team Joe
Caucuses are something that people who don’t have caucuses struggle to understand. It’s not a simple show up and vote for Joe Schmoe. You physically group up into your various candidate supports, you can see the strength of other candidates’ groups, you’re having supporters and staff trying to persuade you to a different group, you’re having your granny telling you that you need to stand here with Bennet’s group because he’s such a nice young man…
And if your candidate doesn’t get 15% of the vote in the first round, they are considered “inviable.” You have to either join a viable candidate, join up with another inviable candidate’s group to try to get the 15% needed to get one of your candidates a delegate, or abstain. This goes on until all candidates are viable, and then delegates are awarded.
Note: this is my understanding as a Michigander who has read a lot of Wikipedia.
So now imagine 1,600+ caucus locations. Let’s say a campaign wants a representative at every single one of those. That’s 1,600 staffers and/or volunteers. Let’s say the campaign wants 2 at every location. Now we’re up to 3,200 people directly helping the campaign. That’s a lot of people. It’s no wonder campaigns are starting to plead for people to come in to Iowa to help them out.
It’s cheaper to have volunteers, anyway.