That debate last night was… a total cluster. The moderators had no control over the stage, cutting off actual substantial discussions, favoring certain candidates, and letting others ramble well beyond their time. The crowd was cheering and booing with no warnings to behave, and almost nobody got a joke to land. It was not a good final showing before Super Tuesday.
For all new readers: Welcome! I am currently on the mailing lists of 2 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!
Surprisingly, Tuesday was a debate day that wasn’t drowning me in emails. Pete Buttigieg only sent one more than his usual, with 8 emails, and Joe Biden held steady at 5. Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren all sent 4 emails.
According to the FiveThirtyEight live blog during the debate, Mike Bloomberg sent them 11 emails during the debate…but as you can see from my counts, I didn’t get the same level of spam.
Despite the lack of excessive emails, there was no lack of debate emails. Every candidate except Tulsi Gabbard wanted to talk about the debates.
Of course, every candidate except Gabbard was actually on the debate stage, but that never stopped Gabbard before. No, Gabbard wanted to talk about how this is the first time she’s ever been worried about not hitting a fundraising goal (let’s ignore all those other fundraising goals she’s been worried about, right?). For some mysterious, completely unknown reason that surely has nothing to do with how much she has openly loathed the Democratic party and failed to get any sort of debate appearance this year, Gabbard is really struggling financially.
Bernie Sanders also claims to be struggling financially. After the Nevada debate, he was outraised by another candidate for a few days straight.
We set a goal of raising 500,000 contributions to our campaign in the final week of the month. That’s for our FEC fundraising deadline.
After the debate last week, we got outraised by one of our opponents, according to news reports.
And no, this doesn’t even count that candidate’s brand new super PAC.
Yes, every one of our opponents accepts contributions from billionaires, or are billionaires themselves. And yes, every non-billionaire has super PACs spending millions of dollars on their behalf.
We do not have that.
But that is why we are going to win.
Together we are building a grassroots movement that will win the nomination, defeat Donald Trump, and transform our country. And we are doing it with millions of contributions, at an average of about $18 a piece.
No billionaires. No super PACs. No high-dollar fundraisers.Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020
Just to run through those last few points: Sanders has returned billionaire money even though the billionaire agreed with him and was trying to support his platform. Sanders has plenty of support from dark money groups. And Sanders has held fundraisers this campaign cycle with ticket prices up to $2,800, the maximum legal limit.
Though he didn’t call her out by name, Sanders was referencing Elizabeth Warren as the candidate who had outraised him, as she was the only one who acquired a brand new super PAC since Nevada (which she also did not disavow, even though she used to run against them). Sanders was quick to jump on the chance to be the underdog again, bemoaning his loss of fundraising superiority and needing half a million new donations to put himself back on top.
Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar both stressed the importance of raising money before the debate to keep their strength going, while Pete Buttigieg reiterated that he really needs $13 million by Super Tuesday.
During the debate, I received emails from Elizabeth Warren (donate $25+ if I’m impressed by her to get an enamel pin!), Pete Buttigieg (here are ways I can spread my personal fundraising link around to support him), Amy Klobuchar (she’s showing off how she’ll make Trump a one-term President on the debate stage), and Tom Steyer, who just wanted to know if watching the debate had made me ready to vote for Steyer.
After the debate, all the candidates on stage emailed me again to reiterate that they hoped they made me proud. Elizabeth Warren quoted Mike Bloomberg’s line of “enough is never enough with her,” and agreed that yes, when it comes to fighting for the working class, nothing ever is enough for her. I thought it was definitely a good line for Warren, because it made Bloomberg sound rather dismissive of women and allowed Warren to emphasize her persistence, but the exchange before that line was actually fairly strong for Bloomberg.
Pete Buttigieg also referenced an actual line from the debate in his post-debate email, though his was one of his own lines and therefore easier to pre-prepare.
If you think the last four years have been chaotic, divisive, toxic, and exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump. Think about what that will be like for this country.
We are facing a make-or-break moment in our nation’s history. For too long, our leadership has either ignored the problems that are most urgent, like climate change and gun violence, or actively made things worse. We need a new way forward.
To answer the call of this historic moment, we need to give people a reason to come together — a reason to hope again. We can do it with solutions bold enough for the challenges we face and big enough to bring the American people together.
Thank you for all your support. It means the world.Pete Buttigieg
The two billionaires, Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, didn’t ask me for donations after the debate. Steyer pointed out that while the candidates all agree on the problems facing them, he disagrees with their solutions, and then name-checked Warren and Sanders specifically. Bloomberg, on the other hand, gave me a number to call to say why I’m in the fight with him.
After tonight’s debate — after a lot of talk, plenty of attacks, and not many solutions from the other candidates — I’m more committed than ever to building a coalition of Americans who can make Donald Trump a one-term president.
After three months of campaigning across the country and listening to people in their communities, I know that the conversation we need to have is not what I saw on stage tonight. Americans from all walks of life know we need to pull this country back together. They know this election is too important to stay divided. And they know America cannot afford another four years with Donald Trump in the White House.
Super Tuesday is one week away and millions of people are already casting their votes. It’s more important than ever to have a real conversation about what’s at stake.
That’s why I’ll be getting on the phone to speak with folks all across America tomorrow morning. Will you call 850-679-6453 tomorrow and tell us why you’re in this fight?
Now is the time to make sure that we have the strongest coalition possible — for Super Tuesday and beyond. I hope you’ll call 850-679-6453 tomorrow and share why you believe this election is so important.
Thank you,Mike Bloomberg
Do you notice what’s missing from that email?
A time to call.
At first, I thought this was a virtual town hall sort of thing like Pete Buttigieg has all the time, but there’s no time set. Now I’m wondering if it’s more like a hotline that Bloomberg might answer (or he might not) so you could just call and give the campaign free quotes. Either way, it was very confusing as to what he was actually after.
Tom Steyer joined Bloomberg in asking for supportive messages, though he emailed before the debate asking for encouragement. Otherwise, all of the candidates were after money.
Pete Buttigieg had his turn to send a strategy memo to his supporters, though, explaining his goal through Super Tuesday and the rest of March. He’s not looking to win with Super Tuesday delegates, he said, but just to keep Sanders’ lead as small as possible and catch him in the later delegates. Super Tuesday does have 33.8% of the total delegates being awarded in one day, but even if you won every single Super Tuesday delegate and all of the first four states, you wouldn’t have enough delegates to win the nomination automatically. Buttigieg is still confident that he has a path to the nomination. In fact, he said that only he and Sanders have paths to the nomination with a majority of delegates.
It’s a bold claim, and we’ll have to see how it plays out. His strategy hinges on his fundraising. Will the debate last night give him a boost?
Bernie Sanders may have been upset that Warren outraised him, but he’s more upset that Mike Bloomberg has declared that he is the candidate to tear down.
One $2.70 donation, Aimin.
That’s what we need you to make tonight before Bernie gets on the debate stage. I’ll explain more in a moment, but if you can make that $2.70 donation right now, please use this link:
OK. Here is the deal. We’ve set a goal of 500,000 contributions by Saturday. That’s when the most important FEC fundraising of this campaign comes to a close. This is important.
Especially since news reports indicate Mike Bloomberg is set to use his billions on a “media onslaught” against Bernie and our campaign. We could see negative ads in almost every state.
This on top of the super PACs and other candidates already spending to beat us.
So if we’re going to have a chance in this primary — if Bernie is going to win — we really need to hit that 500,000 contribution goal by our FEC deadline. And right now, I’m afraid, we’re short.
One $2.70 donation, Aimin. That’s what we’re asking for before Bernie gets on stage for tonight’s debate. Can you make it?
Thank you, sincerely, for all you’ve done for this campaign. It’s because of your support we’ve come this far. Now let’s go out and win South Carolina, win on Super Tuesday, beat Trump, and transform our country.Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020
After the debate, however, his message of unity to the party was… um…
It’s us against the entire damn political establishment.
Tonight it was the candidates taking aim at Bernie on the debate stage. Tomorrow it will be their super PACs and their personal billions taking aim at us in television ads.
But we have something they don’t have: people. Lots and lots of people.Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020
When you “other” someone by making them a “them,” an enemy, you are putting them in danger. This us vs them rhetoric is what makes Trump so dangerous. He’s a monster, but at least he’s with “us,” his supporters say, and he’s opposing “them,” those filthy libs.
We cannot afford to replace the current us vs them with a different version of us vs them. People will die. People are dying. The message of our next President can’t be us vs them. It must be us, together.