On Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 10:45 AM, U.S. Representative of Hawaii’s 2nd District, Tulsi Gabbard, suspended her campaign for President..
Tulsi was in the race for 433 days. I only tracked her emails since May 21, 2019, however, so 303 days. During that time, she sent 184 emails to me as a non-donor and 196 emails to me as a donor, for an average of 0.64 emails every day. Tulsi was one of two candidates to take a long time getting her emails off the ground: she didn’t email me at all until after I had donated to her. Her first donor email arrived on June 28, and her first non-donor email arrived half a month later, on July 16. I have no explanation for why it took her so long to start emailing me, but I’m sure it did not help her campaign.
Tulsi’s favorite day of the week to email me by far was Friday. Thursdays and Saturdays were okay, but Fridays had something special.
Being from Hawaii, I half expected Tulsi’s emails to arrive later in the night than most other candidates, but her spread was fairly close to everyone else. She wasn’t a morning woman and her night numbers were a little high, but nothing extraordinary here.
Tulsi’s emails focused heavily on the debates, which she sometimes qualified for, sometimes didn’t. She was one of only three candidates who managed to qualify for a debate after missing an earlier one (Steve Bullock and Andrew Yang also had that honor). She frequently had big fundraising asks as well, with $19 or $35 as her most common amounts and an average ask of $17.83 per email.
Tulsi also liked to talk about how other candidates were getting free media with debates or town halls that she was not included in. She loved to talk about Hillary Clinton and what she was up to. Tulsi talked frequently about what was going on outside of her campaign… but not all that frequently about her campaign itself. Her policy emails were practically non-existent, and other than ending regime-change forever wars, I couldn’t tell you a thing she stood for.
Perhaps the most unusual thing about Tulsi’s choice of asks was how many times she included a video for me to watch. Tulsi seemed to prefer talking to me over a video instead of text, which really bugged me, as I did not click on any of the campaign videos for this email project. However, Tulsi’s husband is her videographer, and he always lit her beautifully. Some of Tulsi’s biggest strengths were the calmness and power in her voice, how she could command a stage, her poise and strength in her appearance and posture. Tulsi knew her best weapons and she tried to wield them well, hence the abundance of videos.
Unfortunately, Tulsi did have one major weakness.
Tulsi hated the Democratic Party. She absolutely loathed it. Out of her total 379 emails, 182 of them, or 48%, were in some way being negative toward another Democrat or the Democratic Party.
On March 12, 2020, Tulsi’s second-to-last email attacked Republicans for dismantling treaties and safeguards protecting us from nuclear war, the first (and last) time she ever wrote a word against non-Trump Republicans. (She also lambasted the Democrats for not having strong policies in place to fix them in that email.)
Tulsi frequently pointed out that her supporters were not counted in polls because they didn’t classify themselves as Democrats or leaning-Democrat or even Independents. That meant Republicans. Republicans liked Tulsi, so Tulsi kept feeding the Republicans what they wanted, scolding the Democratic Party and going onto Fox News to talk about how badly behaved the Democratic Party was “as a Democrat.”
However, as a Democrat, Tulsi waffled on things the Democratic Party was united on. Abortion rights needed restrictions. Ruthless dictators who gassed their civilians were not committing war crimes. Trump shouldn’t be impeached.
Indeed, Tulsi took the impeachment of Donald Trump as an opportunity to make a spectacle and get her name in the news. Rather than vote for (or against), Tulsi voted “Present,” which was effectively saying “I’m here but I refuse to come down on one side or the other.” She then made a big deal about how this was best serving the will of Americans by not making it political: sure, she believed Trump was guilty of the crimes, but she didn’t want to remove him from office.
It did not win her admiration in Democratic circles, that’s for sure.
This wasn’t the first time that Tulsi caused a spectacle to get her name in the headlines. She sued Google at the end of July for being discriminatory against her emails (remember that thing about how she didn’t send me any? Yeah. She blamed Google.)
She also sued Hillary Clinton for implying that she was a Russian asset.
It’s worth pointing out that news agencies had been running stories about how Russia’s propaganda machine had been lifting up Tulsi’s campaign since early 2019, pointing out how she was clearly one of Russia’s favorites and how her positions aligned with theirs on many issues.
It’s also worth pointing out that Tulsi repeatedly sent very venomous emails designed to sow doubt in the security and effectiveness of our elections and government institutions… which is one of the key things Russia wants to do. They need their citizens to believe that every other country is just as corrupt as they are, and they need every other country to believe that their corruption is not out of the ordinary. They need everyone else to doubt their own government, so Russia’s government doesn’t look like such a shitshow in comparison.
Well… I think they’re winning. And Tulsi certainly was helping.
I’ve made no secret that Tulsi is my least favorite candidate. I’m glad she’s dropped out. So long, Tulsi Gabbard. You’ve been present long past your due date.