The Iowa Caucus was on Monday, and the eighth Democratic debate was on Friday, and in-between was a whole lot of confusion. Every candidate was trying to convince me to give them my money, and Deval Patrick insisted he had nothing to do with Iowa.
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 towers above his competitors with a massive 48 emails in a week. It’s not a record for him, but it’s pretty close. Meanwhile, Joe Biden is a distant second with only 34 emails, and Elizabeth Warren trails even further behind with 28 emails.
Monday was the Iowa Caucus, and as you can see from the above chart, it was also the slowest email day. I thought for sure it would be one of the busiest. Instead, candidates saved their emails for the day after, Tuesday, and then for the end of the week, Friday and Saturday, when there was the New Hampshire debate.
I can’t help but wonder how much of the difference from my expectations was genuine difference (I’ve never tracked emails during an actual vote before) and how much was because of the screwed-up nature of the Iowa count. Nobody was officially the winner for many days, so no one could say “Yay, I won!” or “Unfortunately, X won, but we’ll do better.”
Just because they didn’t have a winner didn’t stop the campaigns from talking about Iowa. Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar all expressed strength and pleasure with their results, though Biden did walk back his remarks, going from “we’re SURGING” to “we took a gut punch” over the course of the week. However, several candidates, most notably Elizabeth Warren mentioned some worries over the lack of expected fundraising bump from doing well in Iowa because the results were so delayed.
Mike Bloomberg used the Iowa debacle to point out that he’s the only candidate not obsessing over the first four states. He is, in fact, the only candidate completely ignoring the first four states. This strategy is currently paying off for him in the national polls, but I’m not sure if it’s one that he should really be proud of: as multiple candidates say, the president is president of ALL of America.
Deval Patrick is also being very hands-off in Iowa, joking about how we shouldn’t look at him for the mishaps, “he wasn’t there.” He was, in fact, in New Hampshire, where he was tooling around the state in his bus, doing many rallies and town halls and other events.
Tulsi Gabbard continued to rage about being the only candidate left out of the CNN town halls (alongside Mike Bloomberg and Michael Bennet, who apparently don’t count as candidates in her world view). She has, however, been incredibly happy with a survey by a local Vermont paper that also covers part of northern New Hampshire.
Her 6% showing in the CNN/UNH poll puts her “within striking distance of Warren,” but it’s that 70.4% that has me scratching my head.
I’m sorry, but when all of your polls are showing you below 10% except one showing you at 70%, I feel like the smarter thing to do is assume there’s something super fishy going on with that one massive outlier instead of using it as proof that you’re SURGING AND TOTALLY GOT THIS.
I would love to see the methodology for that poll, though I suspect it was just an internet survey on the news site.
Amy Klobuchar is also excited about polls, repeatedly citing several that have her statistically tied for second in New Hampshire (though she hasn’t been giving me a source for those). Pete Buttigieg is another one excited about the polls, looking at his trend more than his numbers:
The numbers for Buttigieg are pretty nice though too, he points out, as they have him statistically tied with Bernie Sanders for first place.
It has been very interesting to see him phrase it that way. “Statistical tie with Bernie Sanders.” Usually, when a campaign refers to something as a statistical tie, it’s adding the margin of error to their numbers so they look better than the poll is showing them (and sometimes subtracting the margin of error from their competitor’s numbers to bring them into the same range). With Buttigieg here, he’s at 25%… and Sanders is at 24%. I’ve never seen a campaign refer to a single poll where they are in the lead as a “statistical tie.” Sanders himself would refer to such a poll as “we have a 1-point lead.” Joe Biden does the same. They only start talking about statistical ties when they’re referencing multiple polls, some with them higher, some with them lower, and then go on to talk about how it’s too close to call.
While everyone’s asks boiled down to basically the same thing (Iowa is financially draining and everyone else is spending way more money than I am), there was some difference in tones. Pete Buttigieg took a while before he set a post-Iowa fundraising goal, whereas Amy Klobuchar seemed to have a new goal every day (Early State Fund, Pre-Debate Fund, Post-Debate Fund…). Bernie Sanders leaned into his divisive rhetoric by asking me what side I’m on.
The big question coming out of tonight’s debate is “which side are you on?”
Are you on the side of the working class of this country, which has been battered for 45 years? Are you willing to stand up to the greed and the corruption of the billionaire class? Or are you just going to take their money?
When we are in the White House, we will have a president and a movement that finally has the guts to stand up to the insurance companies, the drug companies and the fossil fuel industry.
When we are in the White House, we will finally have a government that works for ALL OF US and not just the 1 percent.
Getting there will not be easy and this New Hampshire primary is a big one for our campaign. And right now, we are not only taking on all of the candidates on tonight’s debate stage, but two of them with super PACs running almost 2 million dollars worth of ads designed to defeat US.
So, which side are YOU on?
The media will be asking about the number of donations we received today. We need to be able to tell them it was a great night for the political revolution.Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020
I’m on the side that gets Trump out of office and takes back Congress. As long as it’s done legally. Any further restrictions to that goal massively handicaps our chances (and let’s be honest: even doing it legally puts a handicap on us when we’re playing against a party that’s realizing they don’t need to follow the law).
Sanders doubled down on Buttigieg this week, slamming him for the number of billionaires donating to his campaign (40, or $112,000 if they all maxed out), the Super PAC supporting him with ads (VoteVets, the largest organization for elevating veterans’ voices in political discussions), and how many donations he received after Iowa (and doing a drive to one-up his donation count). Joe Biden has apparently also been attacking Buttigieg, because for the first time ever, Buttigieg sent out an email with a response to Biden’s “attack ad.”
Earlier today, Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign released an attack ad on Pete. It suggests that Pete’s perspective as a mayor of a small American city is incompatible with the presidency.
But Pete’s on the ground experience as mayor turning around a Midwestern industrial city — and as a veteran — is exactly why he is running for president.
Because at this moment, the American people are calling out for something completely different from this classic Washington style of politics. Pete’s offering a new vision of what politics could be, shaped by his experience as a middle-class mayor and veteran. That’s the point.
With Pete’s win in Iowa and now his surge in the polls, the attacks are going to keep coming. So if you’re ready to turn the page to what’s next, and if you’re proud to be on this hard-working team, please chip in right now to help us reach our $1.5 million goal before Tuesday.
This attack ad belittles the experiences of South Bend residents who now have better jobs, rising incomes, and new life in their city. They certainly don’t think their lives should be a Washington politician’s punchline.
We’ve heard folks say this Democratic primary is no time to take a risk — and we agree. But we think the biggest risk that we could take right now would be to go up against this president with the same old playbook.
Every time Democrats have won the White House in the last 50 years, we’ve done so with a nominee who was new on the scene and was opening the door to a new generation of leadership. What we saw in Iowa, and what we’re seeing beginning to stir across the country, is the hunger of Americans for a new kind of politics. They’re ready to put the politics of the past in the past, and turn the page to an era defined by belonging, boldness, and action.
That’s why Pete is exactly the president we need at this moment in American history.
I read this email multiple times and couldn’t find a reason to put it in the “negative against another Democrat” column. He states what Biden did and that it speaks to Biden’s place in the race, but he doesn’t go into further detail, doesn’t accuse Biden of being “sad” or “angry” or even “out-of-touch.” He calls the ad itself “belittling” to South Bend, but he didn’t hammer a connection that Biden was belittling South Bend.
I am left in awe, yet again, at how Buttigieg’s email team took a masterclass in writing.
No, the worst Buttigieg has been doing is peppering his emails with reminders that Bernie Sanders is funded by dark money groups. He’s not even really hammering that point any longer, just stating it, as he did in the above email.
Even Elizabeth Warren is jumping on that train, sending an email after the debate that accused everyone else on the debate stage with her (except Amy Klobuchar) of having Super PACs or being a billionaire.
Every single candidate on the debate stage tonight except for Amy Klobuchar and me is either a self-funding billionaire, or is receiving help from Super PACs that can dump unlimited spending into this primary.
To me, that’s not how you build a campaign that fights for working people.
Together we’re building a grassroots movement to unite the country, beat the most corrupt president in American history, and root out the corruption that got him to the White House in the first place.
But our next big task is hitting our fundraising goal before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday. I’m not going to lean on a Super PAC or beg a handful of wealthy donors to help hit this goal, so I’m asking you:Elizabeth Warren
Later emails along these lines did drop Klobuchar’s name from it, as if she realized that praising Klobuchar when her own position in the race is rocky might not be the best tactic. However, even Warren is getting Super PAC assistance.
All of these lines of who’s good and who isn’t are exhausting me. As I said before, I’m on the side of “get Trump out legally.” Beyond that, I really don’t care where you’re getting your money from. The pettier a candidate is about where someone else is getting their money from, though, the less happy I am with them. Would they be willing to keep Trump in office if it meant the list of people Democrats consider unacceptable is six pages long? Because that’s certainly what it’s starting to feel like.