Does it matter if you know who the person asking you for a donation actually is?
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.
Joe Biden tried to send me 4 emails yesterday, but his last one arrived just before and just after midnight to my two accounts, so only one of them counted as today.
In Biden’s first email of the day, he thanked me for being on Team Joe–a membership that doesn’t involve any sort of donation, he reassured me, just required taking that first step and saying “I want to change the course of history”–and then asked me for a donation. Later, he told me that to get a membership card to show I’m on Team Joe, I need to make a donation.
Ah, consistent messaging, the mortal enemy of all brand managers…
Biden also asked me for a donation after officially securing enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee, so he’s no longer just the presumptive nominee.
And finally, Taylor Casey wrote to me to tell me how every time the news covers another Black person’s death, she personally gets struck by emotions and numb at the thought of it happening to someone she loves. We need to stand up together to stop this, she says, and she asked me to donate to the NAACP.
Who’s Taylor Casey, you may ask? That’s a good question.
Taylor, it turns out, is one of Biden’s email strategists. She did sign her email with her own name for the third time since she started working for Biden (fun call back: her first email from July 2019, in which she said that the meeting rooms were named after ice cream flavors, was one of my very first tweets, and Taylor herself was my very first confirmed campaign staffer follower).
And she did sign a group email with the names of the entire email team (in April).
And then she wrote this one.
And that’s it. That’s all I know about Taylor Casey. Even though I’m sure I’ve read her written work every single day, the Biden campaign has done nothing, absolutely nothing, to make me aware of who she is as a person. There are really only a few staffers of Biden’s who I can name: Elana Firsht is the online fundraising director. Jen double-barrelled-last-name is his new campaign manager, while Greg Schultz was his old one. Rob Flaherty is his digital director, though I know him more from Beto O’Rourke’s campaign than Biden’s. And I think there’s a Karen or a Kristy who is the deputy fundraising director?
One thing Tom Steyer did was he had a different staffer write his weekly campaign round-up newsletter. Every week, someone new would introduce themselves to me and talk about why they supported Tom. Quite honestly, they all blended together for me because the relationship was never sustained, it was just one letter and then I never heard from them again, but the writing was always very different from staffer to staffer. He was trying to let his staff be more than just numbers.
Pete Buttigieg did the best job with this. He had quite a few staffers who would repeatedly pop up in my inbox, each with their own style of writing and their own flair and personality. His staffers also had fierce online presences as well, with fan groups forming around staff members. I could frequently tell, with Pete’s emails, when one was written by Lis Smith vs Greta Carnes vs Mike Schmuhl before I even got to the signature.
Biden’s campaign is not like that. Joe Biden is the personality, and everything in his campaign exists to prop him up. It’s not a multi-faceted organization that I can see myself in, but a nameless, faceless blue wave for Biden.
To some people, that’s ideal, because if there’s no name or face or personality, then the name/face/personality can be anything. It could be you!
But people don’t imprint on blank. They imprint on things they can see the face in, even if it’s the side of a barn or the goofy grin of one of Google’s automatic cars.
Perhaps that’s why Taylor actually signed this email of all the emails she’s written. It gives the plea a name, at least. But it’s not a name I know. It’s not a face I can picture. There was no foundation built, no “Hey, I remember Taylor’s emailed me before, I like her emails, I’ll throw in a couple bucks for her.”
Foundations are hard to build. They take time and effort and dedication. But without a foundation, can you really build up?