The final week of January was one long plea for money, though no candidate managed to upset me quite like Joe Biden this week.
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 landing a slam dunk on the bottom of the ninth from all the way down the pitch, and that is going to be my final sports reference of the post. However, it seems auspicious that he has sent 49 emails in the week leading up to a big game featuring a team called the 49ers.
Coincidence? I think not!
Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have tied for second place with 32 emails each. Both attempted to catch up to Buttigieg, but both lacked his email stamina. Bernie Sanders trailed behind in a distant third with only 28 emails to his name.
It’s unsurprising that the emails surged throughout the week, culminating in a huge wash on Friday as campaigns begged, pleaded, and cajoled for the last $5 in my pocket. Saturday took a crash in email volume, but it was still over 5 emails for every candidate still in the race.
While just about every campaign worried at least once that they weren’t going to make their goal, only a handful of campaigns checked in with me afterwards to let me know that they had hit their mark. Only Tulsi Gabbard announced that she had surpassed her $1 million goal by $32,000. Other candidates who sighed in relief were Joe Biden, who also hit his $1 million goal before immediately starting a new one for 13,000, Elizabeth Warren, who hit her 1 millionth donor, and Amy Klobuchar, who had an odd goal of $621,000.
To my complete and utter surprise, Pete Buttigieg did not start the month with a 6 AM fundraising update. After every FEC deadline in the past, he immediately turned around with a recap of how the campaign did. This time, he simply said the numbers were “coming soon,” and he had another $500,000 goal to hit.
In fact, none of the candidates revealed their fundraising numbers via email (though I heard Andrew Yang reported a $6.7 million haul for the month). Their focus was entirely on ramping up for Iowa (or New Hampshire).
Joe Biden, however, legitimately angered me. If you recall, all week he had been emailing about what dire straits his campaign was in financially.
On February 1, Biden’s first email was boasting about the best fundraising month ever. Since his launch.
So all of those screams and moans the last few days, the on his knees begging for my money, was coming at the tail end of his best month ever. He unequivocally has the resources to compete.
So that’s why his next email was once again worried about not having the resources to compete.
And not only is my $5 donation once again the only thing holding this campaign which unequivocally has the resources it needs from success, they followed it up with a poorly-timed email.
What’s poorly timed about this email? It’s clearly a late-night message about how the team is working hard to budget wisely and I can help them with a last-minute donation, and the author of this email (Greg, Biden’s campaign manager) is about to head to bed and wants some good news. Fairly typical email stuff, right?
Except it was sent at 1 PM. 12:57 PM, actually. I find it incredible that the Biden campaign knew, probably nine hours in advance, that the team wasn’t going to finish their work in time and was going to have to stay up late on a Saturday crunching numbers.
Yes, this is standard political email garbage. Yes, just about everyone does it. Yes, there is always another deadline they need to meet. But the way Biden is framing his financial hardships is so disingenuine. It is insulting to his supporters, constantly making them feel like Biden is on the knife’s edge of defeat and then swinging back with LOL JK BEST MONTH EVER!
Compare, if you will, to an email from Pete Buttigieg I received shortly after this Biden email.
Thanks for all your help getting us through the end of the month.
We knew going into this campaign that its early stages would unfold in roughly four phases.
The first was to convince Americans that a small-town Mayor with a funny-sounding Maltese name was a viable candidate for president. On the strength of our vision, the urgency of our convictions, and some help from phonetic pronunciation (BOOT-edge-edge), we’ve done that.
The second was to show that we’ve got grassroots energy on our side. We consistently posted some of the strongest fundraising numbers — and we did it competing with well-established candidates. We are building a new kind of campaign, and Americans are showing their support by personally investing in this vision.
Then, it was Phase Three. We harnessed our vision for taking on urgent, generational challenges — and turned it into the kind of person-to-person organizing that wins support and leads to people caucusing and voting for my campaign.
And now, it’s Phase Four. It’s the phase where we leave it all on the field and motivate caucusgoers and voters to show up and help turn the page and usher in a new era of politics.
But scaling a campaign and executing the programs we need to win takes resources. People. Buildings. Equipment. Paid media. We still need to raise a lot of money to finish strong in Iowa and continue this campaign through New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and the Super Tuesday states.
We’re challenging ourselves to raise $500,000 before Monday — the day of the Iowa Caucuses. That won’t get us all the way to what we need to stay competitive after Iowa, but it’ll go a long way, and I’d be grateful if you chipped in.
It has been one of the honors of my life to be part of this campaign. I’ve been invited into homes and communities to talk about the problems that have gone unaddressed and the urgency of taking a new approach. I’ve heard directly about the deep fears, and the inspiring sources of hope, that motivate people across the country. It all reinforces the stakes of this moment and the power of a new vision.
So as this nominating contest moves toward caucuses and votes, we’re rising to meet the moment. We’re in this campaign because we take the urgency of the challenges we face seriously and know meeting them means thinking big and following through.
But all the challenges we face require this of us: that we take them on together. I’m asking for your support because demonstrating the size of our team and the strength of our purpose will send a signal to others that we’re going to win on Monday.
You’ll hear from others on the team today about Phase Four and the work we need to do this weekend. I’m thankful for your attention to our strategy. We’re thinking big, and the only way to achieve big things is to pursue them together.Pete Buttigieg
The goal he and Biden have are exactly the same: $500,000 by the Iowa Caucus. But Buttigieg speaks honestly: this isn’t all we’re going to need. But it will help. This is why we need it now. And thank you for doing it.
Unfortunately for Buttigieg, this was one of about 8 emails I received on Saturday asking for money for his campaign, so the power of his message was diluted, but this email standing on its own beside Biden’s speaks volumes toward their campaigning styles.
Buttigieg doesn’t shirk from genuine honesty. Biden is playing the typical political game. I guess we’ll know Monday whose strategy is paying off.
I am contemplating adding another ask to this chart: Attend. Buttigieg has been the biggest for this, sending me links to various virtual events he is having. On Saturday, he invited me to the South Bend field office to watch the caucus results come in. Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang have offered me to some trainings. However, as the early states close and the Super Tuesday/Marathon states light up, I have a feeling I’m going to be asked to attend a lot more events for candidates. At the moment, I’ve been lumping most of them under “volunteer” or “donate” because they are either volunteer-training events or virtual fundraisers, but there are going to be more rally-style events in my view, and I am interested in attending some of them. I’ve been spoiled with a Presidential campaign field office just forty minutes down the road from me. the others are about to start stepping up.