Days 257 and 258: 2/1/20-2/2/20

This is it. The official start of the 2020 Democratic Primary and Caucus season (though Elizabeth Warren argues differently). The Iowa caucuses begin in an hour, and by this time tomorrow, we should have our first delegates assigned. Final money pushes were all the rage over the weekend, with a few candidates also pushing for final get-out-the-caucus calls. Pete Buttigieg gave me some information on how the caucuses get scored and what we’re looking for.


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.

2 days. Everything on the line.

Pete Buttigieg slammed my inbox with a massive 17 emails over the weekend, nearly double the next highest, which was Joe Biden with 10. Both Michael Bennet and Elizabeth Warren slipped only 7 emails into my inbox.

Some people are saying Buttigieg must win (or at least come second) in Iowa to remain a viable candidate. I’m hoping that that means after Iowa, his emails calm down a little.

Hoping, but not actually expecting.

This could have been more even.

The weekend split was off by just one email. I’m not sure if the lower Sunday was resulting from it being Sunday or it being Super Bowl Sunday. Regardless, it didn’t make that much difference.

Surprising variation in just 2 days

Tulsi Gabbard was the only candidate who sent an email without an ask over the weekend. She wanted to thank everyone who had donated to propel her past her $1 million fundraising goal. That was, in fact, her only email over the weekend.

Amy Klobuchar had a final survey for me before the primary and caucus season began, while Elizabeth Warren offered her limited-edition pin again for a donation of $25 or more, and Bernie Sanders offered a new sticker just for me for a donation of any amount, though most people gave $8 (even though it was just for me and the first time being offered?).

Mike Bloomberg wanted to show me his Super Bowl ad early, and Tom Steyer wanted to show me some news appearances and articles he’d been in over the past week. Michael Bennet showed me a video of James Carville again guaranteeing that with Bennet as the nominee, he’d get 55% of the vote and we’d end up with 55 Senate seats.

Again, I marvel that Carville is so adept at viewing the future that he knows this. I have a gut feeling that we’ll never be able to test if he was correct.

In other news: a coyote just trotted past my window. Sorry I didn’t get a picture!


Tom Steyer and Bernie Sanders both wanted me to commit to vote for them in my state. I did not commit to either of them.

Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang all asked me to make phone calls for them into Iowa. Warren went so far as to offer me phone call buttons stylized like her donation buttons.

This is an interesting approach.

I’ve done phone banking before. It’s never been a “here’s your 10 calls” thing. I wonder if by clicking a button to commit to making X number of calls, it’s not that the program counts your calls, but it makes you responsible to yourself. You said you would, so you will.

Iowa has overtaken fundraising

Very few candidates don’t care about Iowa right now: Mike Bloomberg and Tulsi Gabbard didn’t mention the caucuses in their weekend emails. Neither of them are really focused on winning any part of Iowa.

Amy Klobuchar is hyped for the start of the season.

Endorsements from newspapers!

For Klobuchar, today is the official start, and she’s pumped up and ready to go.

However, Elizabeth Warren feels like the voting season has already begun.

The phrasing made me sit up and frown

While everyone else is hyping up the Iowa caucuses as “the start,” Warren is waving it aside: only billionaires and pundits care about that. Voting has already begun.

Voting has already begun, but today is the first day when results begin.

I found it fascinating that Warren was downplaying that importance before results had even begun to arrive. It made me think that maybe her campaign isn’t seeing good internal numbers for Iowa, and she’s trying to downplay its importance before the numbers become public.

Meanwhile, Pete Buttigieg deployed his secret weapon: his husband, Chasten.

Hey there,

I’m writing to you from Iowa!

I’m so proud to be out here on the trail with Peter, but (it’s an email — you guessed it) I need your help.

Our team has set a very ambitious goal of raising $500,000 by midnight tonight for what we’re calling “Phase Four.” *insert dramatic cheer*

By chipping in today, you’ll be part of sending us into Caucus day on a high note. We’ll go into it showing we’re in this together, and we’re here for one another.

We set ambitious goals because we know that the members of this community push themselves to do the hard work and show up where they’re needed.

It’s one of my favorite parts of this campaign — the hope, the commitment to work toward a better future for all, and the sense of belonging.

From the day Peter launched this campaign, you’ve done the hard work of turning hope into reality and building belonging from coast to coast. Now, we need you to show everyone what Pete For America can do.

This is our last chance to reach Iowans before they start caucusing on Monday. So if you can, please chip in $10. It goes a long way and every dollar counts. Thank you for all you do for this community. It makes a huge difference. All of it.

Chasten Buttigieg

Out of all of the emails I’ve been receiving, this is the first one I’ve smiled wryly at recently. “It’s an email–you guessed it.” “*insert dramatic cheer*”

I would love to make a decree that only Chasten Buttigieg is allowed to write campaign emails in the future, for any candidate. Give me an email that pokes fun at itself over one that hypes up traditional political games.

However, Buttigieg then went and sent a repeat of that email. If Chasten is going to write all the emails, he has to write fresh ones every time. It’s not as fun the second time around.

One other thing Buttigieg did, which none of the other candidates have done yet, is break down what we can expect coming out of Iowa.

This is a long email about how you should be looking at the results of the Iowa Caucuses. We wanted to make sure you, an important member of Team Pete, had all the information before tomorrow night. 

Hi there,

As you know, the outcome of the Iowa Caucuses is critical. (If you can, please chip in right now to help us make sure we can sprint through the finish line.) What you might not know, though, is how the winner will be determined, or what to make of all the numbers. 

There will be three numbers coming out of the Caucuses: the raw numbers of the first alignment (“alignment” is a caucus term for the different rounds of voting); the raw numbers of the second alignment; and “State Delegate Equivalents,” or “SDEs.” The winner of the Iowa Caucuses will be determined by this third number — the number of delegates awarded. 

Here’s an important note: Delegates are only awarded at the end of the night after a full Caucus. A lot will happen between that first alignment and final delegate allocation. 

But we heard today that the Bernie campaign is planning on releasing numbers after that first alignment — which means that they’re choosing to ignore the results that come after. 

But just like the winner of the Super Bowl will be determined by total points scored, not yards gained before halftime, the results of the Caucuses will be determined by delegates earned at the end of the night, not the first or second alignment numbers. 

If you’re proud to be on Team Pete — the campaign defined by boldness and belonging — please chip in right now and help us reach our $500,000 goal before midnight.

Here’s why understanding how this works and adhering to these rules is important: The Democratic nominee has to play to win.

Listen, as much as we’d like to count up the votes in the general election and determine the winner that way, instead of working within the electoral college, we have to be ready to win under the rules we have. Democratic candidates need to demonstrate that ability right now. 

The measure of how someone wins the nomination will be delegates. So that’s how Pete for America is measuring success — because that’s how we win. 

Pete is the leader we need, and this is the campaign that can win. If you believe that, chip in right now to make sure we can win in Iowa tomorrow, and be ready to win in New Hampshire just eight days later.

We expect our team — that’s you — to lead when it comes to caucus night analysis and behavior online. Sit tight and wait until the end of the night. Follow the Rules of the Road tomorrow, just as you have this entire year. 

Even if other campaigns go there and try to spin the results, we won’t. 

Look, we’re playing to win. This year more than ever, Democrats need to be ready to win in November. And we are. We can win. And we’ll always be transparent with you about how we do that.

If you’re proud to be on a team that’s working for a new type of politics based on honesty and integrity, please chip in right now to make sure we have the resources to sprint through Iowa and win tomorrow night — fairly and respectfully.

Pete for America, South Bend HQ

This is the first year that Iowa will be reporting 3 numbers publicly, and confusion is bound to abound. As Buttigieg pointed out, some candidates such as Bernie Sanders are already planning on using the first alignment number, which means nothing for getting delegates and is more of a way to measure the accuracy of the polls than anything else. Like with Warren, Sanders is already downplaying the final results of Iowa when it hasn’t even happened yet.

But as Buttigieg said, we have to win under the rules we have. As my mother said: you have to win by the rules before you can change the rules.

What does this all mean?

I have never been more engrossed with Iowa in my life.

I don’t think anyone will drop because of Iowa.

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