Week 34: January 5-January 11, 2020

We lost another candidate this week, with Marianne Williamson deciding that she had elevated the conversation as much as she could, and now it was time to step back and not take oxygen from the remaining progressive campaigns. The debate threshold closed with six candidates on the stage, and Elizabeth Warren is making phone calls again.

I suspect we’re building toward a massive peak.

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.

When 3 emails a day is THIRD place, there’s a problem.

The winner of the most desperate emailer of the week goes to Pete Buttigieg once again, sending a whopping 33 emails in just 7 days. That averages out to just under 5 emails a day. Joe Biden is a distant second with only 27 emails, while Michael Bennet and Elizabeth Warren are reluctant thirds with 20 emails in a week.

An odd spread I can’t quite explain.

Usually, the week builds to Friday and quiets down on the weekend, but this past week was a bit odd with a lull on Monday and a spike on Tuesday. I suspect the normal email patterns will be disrupted for quite some time as the candidates race down the final straight to the first votes in Iowa.

It’s worth noting that some states are already voting with early-voting and absentee ballots. Alabama and New Hampshire can begin voting this week. Next week, North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia can start to vote.

The 2020 primaries have officially begun.

Iran took a lot of attention this week.

Mike Bloomberg officially kicked off his campaign with a “Day One” event on Saturday, trying to get me to go to one of his simultaneous campaign events or tweet about why I supported him.

He’s got a bus too, but that’s not what his bus looks like

It looked like there might have been an event in my corner of the Great Lakes, but I didn’t make an attempt to go. That would have required interacting with the email, which I try not to do.

Various campaigns were trying to at least get me to do some virtual phone banking for them, if nothing else. Amy Klobuchar was boasting about her biggest day of action yet, while Andrew Yang set a goal of making 600,000 phone calls to Iowans in January and Bernie Sanders set a goal of 5,000,000 phone calls. Elizabeth Warren dangled the carrot of maybe getting a call from Warren if I made calls for her.

You know, I’ve been wondering about those phone calls from Warren for a while. It sounds like she only does them when they’re advertised (and this might not be true, if I’m wrong, please correct me!). “Donate to me, and you could get a call.” I feel like it started off as a great thing: Warren spends her free time calling random donors. Other candidates tried to emulate this (I recall emails from Beto O’Rourke, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, and Cory Booker) with varying degrees of success: Booker’s felt the most genuine, while Gabbard felt like if she had to put aside an hour to call people at the end of the quarter, she would. Warren always felt like she genuinely enjoyed getting to call her donors and was very much looking forward to it.

As time went on, though, her strategy seemed to change. Getting a call from Warren didn’t feel so much like a surprise bonus that every donation might come with, but it felt more like scheduled moments of “okay, donors to THIS email will be put on a list Warren will randomly call from.” It turned a campaign perk into a transaction, and that was, I think, the point none of the other candidates grasped. Once you set conditions for a call, it’s no longer a random surprise, but now it’s an actual contest.

And once it’s a contest, now it’s trading candidate access for money (or volunteer efforts, in this case).

Now, there is nothing wrong with that. Like I said, I think it’s great that Warren is calling her supporters and triggered many other candidates to call random donors too! This is one of the ways where one candidate’s change has rippled through the entire race, like with Buttigieg’s first-day fundraising releases. I’m just sad that it’s become transactional. Like with Buttigieg’s email quality to volume, Warren’s personal calls started off as a refreshing breath of fresh air to cutthroat politics and now has become overdone to the point of annoyance. Oh, Warren’s making calls? Must be another fundraising push.

Polls have also been on everyone’s mind. With the debate qualification deadline last week, Andrew Yang was desperately trying to get his last few polls in. When they didn’t pan out, he lashed out at the DNC, declaring that his internal polling said he would have made it, and so did the DMR’s polling, and since the DMR was the one moderating the debate, surely their opinion mattered the most.

Yang Gang — this is the message we need to send to the DNC and everyone who doubts our movement.  We are one of just three in the running to see this momentum and a clear rise in the state.

Let’s use this momentum to amplify our message that we are here to win.  Give as much you can to let the DNC know that the Yang Gang and our Humanity First movement will not go down without a fight.  Pitch in now.

Andrew Yang

Cory Booker was also upset, but he tempered his blame game.

It’s official. I won’t be on the January debate stage. But this is about a whole lot more than just me.

Of all of the people who’ve qualified for the next Democratic debate stage, not one is a person of color. For a party as diverse as ours, in an election where communities of color will decide the outcome, that’s wrong.

I don’t doubt that the rules our party set were well-intentioned, but the outcomes are undeniable: These thresholds have effectively kept people of color from the national stage.

Meanwhile, the billionaires in this race have been able to spend literally hundreds of millions on ads. This shouldn’t be about who has the most money.

Cory Booker

Cards on the table: Booker is my second choice. But second choice doesn’t matter in polls to get on the debate stage. Obviously, fixing campaign finance rules would help him and other candidates of color who struggled to fundraise and market themselves, but I struggle to think of a solution that could be enacted for the February debates. While I still hold firm that the debate stage is not without diversity, I absolutely will agree that the lack of people of color is a problem.

I just don’t know how it can be fixed with the system we currently have.

Volunteer is slowly growing.

Tom Steyer asked me to donate to help the victims of the Australia wildfires, but everyone else was focused on their campaigns at home this week. Volunteer asks were ticking higher as campaigns asked me to phone or text bank, come to Iowa to help get out the caucus, or host debate watch parties. Several candidates were asking for my opinion pre-debates, including Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden, while Elizabeth Warren launched new winter merch and she and Bernie Sanders were offering up free stickers with donations.

Pete Buttigieg was interesting, sharing insights into his digital media strategy and how his campaign was interpreting the recent polls out of Iowa and New Hampshire. More than any other campaign, Buttigieg’s emails have been the most informative on how campaigns actually work. I do enjoy reading them… I just wish there weren’t so many.

Buttigieg has a ways to go before he catches the email frontrunners, but it’s not for a lack of trying!

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, consider supporting me on Ko-Fi. But Their Emails! merch is also available on for purchase here!

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