At 12:27 PM ET, on Friday, January 10, 2020, best-selling author Marianne Williamson acknowledged that with no staff and no votes, she would no longer be able to elevate the conversation and is suspending her campaign so as not to get in the way of a progressive candidate winning any of the primaries.
After 234 days of tracking, Marianne had sent me 539 emails, 282 of which were sent to my non-donor account. That comes out to just over 1 email a day.
Marianne emailed the most on Tuesdays and the start of the week. She tended to take a rest on Wednesday before emailing a bit more at the end of the week.
Marianne emailed mainly after standard work hours, between 5 PM and 8:59 PM EST. She almost never emailed after 9 PM, which stands out to me for two reasons. First of all, Marianne didn’t make many debates. The bulk of the night emails come from people emailing during and immediately after debates. Secondly, Marianne’s supporters were mainly women and mainly mothers. It makes sense to me that she would email when they might have a chance to check their emails, after dinner and before bed.
Marianne only spent about half of her emails directly asking for money. Many times, she would give a lengthy talk on the importance of protecting the children or holistic health. She had a series of emails written by supporters where she would finish with a P.S. asking for donations and a P.P.S. asking if I’d be interested in writing one of those emails, which led to her high “Other” asks. Marianne would also frequently link me to interviews and talks she gave, encouraging me to watch her speak and share it around.
What stood out for me with Marianne and this chart was the tiny sliver of “Outside.” Marianne only sent 1 email (to both my donor and non-donor accounts) asking me to give money to a cause that was not herself, and that was asking me to donate to Mike Gravel to get him on the debate stage because diverse voices matter. The only still-running candidates who have been less generous with their public voice are Mike Bloomberg and Deval Patrick (unsurprising, they haven’t been in the race long) and Tulsi Gabbard. While most other candidates encourage donations to down-ballot races against Republicans such as Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, or Steve King, many of them also would talk about a cause that was important to them: wildfire relief, immigrant support, or victim funds after mass shootings, to name a few.
Marianne never once advocated for an outside organization. Give a dollar to Mike Gravel was the extent of her public charity. I remember, in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, nearly every candidate provided links to the victim funds or implored me to call my representatives in Congress. Only Marianne and Tom Steyer instead asked for donations for their own campaigns.
Marianne was frequently hyping up some talk she was going to give (register for exclusive livestream access!) or had recently given. Her lack of fundraising focus was refreshing: when she wanted me to give her money, she usually had some sort of event or policy she wrapped the ask in, so it was rarely give her money for the sake of giving her money. Marianne did reference recent events and holidays quite frequently: what Trump was up to, shootings, historical snippets about holidays… She occasionally would give away stickers, but far more frequently, she’d direct me to her store for a yard sign.
Marianne was never a pessimist in her emails. She always trusted her supporters would see her through the hardships by digging deep. Though she didn’t necessarily always ask for money, her donation buttons were frequently below her signature in her emails.
And her donation buttons! The very first email I received from Marianne was celebrating Pride Month, and the buttons were rainbow colored. I remember being quite taken aback, not knowing what to make of Marianne at the time, and going “Oooookay, I guess that’s how she rolls.”
Marianne’s buttons never really settled down, and I think this hurt her more than she realized. More than anyone on her campaign realized. It wasn’t so much that her buttons weren’t coherent as her brand wasn’t coherent.
For reference, here’s Marianne’s logo:
She had a couple signature colors, a bold, easy-to-read font, and some stylized numbers. As a logo, I like it. I also liked the condensed version.
The colors worked well together. They were unusual in the field and unique after Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out (though her hot pink/black was different, it was similar enough for there to be multiple “pink” candidates). The dark purple stood out against light backgrounds, and the pale pink stood out against dark backgrounds. They worked.
So this is what she did for her buttons:
Now, she didn’t just stay with a button choice when she made one. She’d go back quite frequently. Her purple buttons and her coral buttons lasted the longest, but notice neither of those colors were her colors. She went to dark purple once, but it wasn’t exactly her purple, so it didn’t look right. She also used her pink to highlight the $30 donation button for her rainbow buttons in November, but because EVERY button was a different color and in a gradient, that pink $30 looked out of place and upsetting instead of tantalizing as the one I should click. And finally, the only button that I believe she designed herself, because it showed up after she let go of her entire staff, was a purple to blue gradient.
Because of course it was.
Now, I love color. People who know me, who have been to my house (or seen pictures of my cats) know I have a bright teal living room, an indigo kitchen, and a purple bedroom. I love color. And I get the excitement of having buttons that you can customize to any color you want. But. But. Branding is important. In a Presidential campaign, branding is crucial. A strong brand is of the sort that you can just see a color or a font and immediately think of the brand. Liberty green? Warren. Heartland gold? Buttigieg.
Marianne’s buttons never adhered to her brand. They were never a cohesive part of her campaign. They were distracting and attention-getting for being so bizarre and uncoupled, and that is not what you want. You don’t want people talking about how your giant rainbow buttons took up half of your email. You want them to be using the buttons.
Now, I’m not saying Marianne’s buttons cost her the campaign. But I would put money on them not helping her.
Marianne Williamson had an unfortunate reputation for being “woo-woo” and a kook. Her message of love and harmony and peace did not help people take her campaign seriously. However, if you took the time to actually read her words and parse their meaning, you would find that Marianne is actually a highly intelligent woman who could speak knowledgeably on many topics and who made many valid points. We do need to protect our children better. We do need to look at the cause of sickness, such as environmental damages that poor regulations allow. We won’t beat Trump with policy papers or anger.
Marianne is absolutely right when she says the force that beats Trump won’t be politics as usual, but will be an emotional reaction to a candidate that motivates people to be their best selves. Unfortunately for Marianne, that candidate won’t be her.
So long, Marianne, and thank you for your run.