EDIT: This post was written when Trump’s emails were hiding in Spam. Here is the correct breakdown of this day’s emails.
Donald Trump decided to try again to get me to respond to his pleas!
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.
On Monday, Joe Biden sent 3 emails, while Donald Trump only managed to get 1 to me.
Of those 4 emails, 3 of them were asking for money. While Biden straight up asked for money, Trump spun a story about how my donation is so critical to helping them catch up to their mid-month fundraising goal that Trump authorized a 500% MATCH just for me.
Now, I’m sure you’ve all seen this sort of email. Donate now, and your donation will be “matched.” But what does that actually mean?
In all likelihood: it means the campaign is hoping you’re gullible enough to believe them.
The following is in regards to presidential campaigns only. Other political campaigns are very similar to presidential campaigns, and non-political campaigns have different rules.
This is also a very simplified explanation, with exact numbers coming from FEC.gov.
|2020 Limit per Election*|
|Party Committee State/District/Local||$5,000 Combined|
|Party Committee National||$5,000|
An individual is any individual person who qualifies under the federal rules for being able to donate to a candidate. No matter how rich that individual is, they are capped at $2,800.
A candidate committee is a committee set up for a specific candidate’s campaign. All candidates are required to have a designated committee that handles all of their funding. An example of this would be if Bernie Sanders’ Senate campaign wants to donate to Joe Biden’s campaign committee. It would be limited to $2,000. (And then Bernie could give an additional $2,800 of his own money.)
A PAC Multicandidate is a political action committee that is not connected to any specific candidate but has made donations to a minimum of 5 federal candidates. They have a limit of $5,000 per election. An example of this would be End Citizens United, which has donated to many House and Senate candidates who support ending Citizens United. They can donate $5,000 to Joe Biden’s campaign committee.
A PAC Nonmulticandidate would be a political action committee that is not connected to any specific candidate and has not made donations to a minimum of 5 federal candidates. They have a limit of $2,800 per election.
A state-level party committee is permitted $5,000 of donations to a specific candidate, however, local and district party committees are presumed to be affiliated with the state-level committee, so any donation from a local-level party committee is included in that $5,000 donation. If, for example, my local Berrien County Democratic Party donated $250 to Joe Biden’s campaign committee, all of the rest of the Democratic party committees in Michigan are now limited to $4,750.
National level party committees are permitted to give $5,000 to a candidate’s campaign committee. That’s it. They are allowed to campaign on behalf of the candidate, but they can’t give them additional direct financial assistance.
(That “Paid for by…” disclaimer lets you know where the money is coming from when you see ads for or against candidates or issues.)
The candidate themselves are the only category that is not limited. They can either loan their campaign their own money, with the expectation of having it paid back, or they can donate their own money directly.
Now, let’s consider a matching scenario.
To begin with, the way this email is written, only I get this 500% match, right? It’s an exclusive offer.
I feel so special.
Now, I’m limited to a $2,800 donation. If I max out my donation for this one match opportunity, that turns into $14,000, according to Trump’s math.
Though it’s not mentioned, I presume his mid-month goal is at least $10 million, based on previous fundraising goals. $14,000 is a big chunk of change, but it’s not going to make or break a $10+ million goal.
But even if it did… where is that extra $11,200 coming from?
It’s not coming from any one generous donor: that’s way over their donation capabilities.
Same with a PAC.
Or a party committee.
The only person who can donate $11,200 to his own campaign is Donald Trump himself.
This is not the first time Trump has given matching offers. He usually gives at least 30 a month, every month. So let’s take a look at his past filings…
Since 2017, Trump has donated a massive $0 to his own campaign.
Okay, so Trump isn’t matching. Who, then, is? It’s not one person. It’s not one group. A group of people? All of Trump’s rich friends? Well, it would take 5 of them to match your one maxed donation… assuming they hadn’t already donated anything to Trump themselves. And if they hadn’t already donated to Trump but are willing to donate if some total stranger to them donates… why? Why are they holding money hostage if they believe in Trump?
And let’s be real: this isn’t an exclusive offer. Let’s assume that Trump has 1 million people on his mailing list. I’d wager $2,800 that pretty much everyone who hasn’t already maxed out was offered that matching offer. Let’s call it 750,000 people, using completely made-up numbers. Now let’s say they all donated $1. For a 500% match, that means Trump needs to find an additional $3 million, or at least 1,072 people willing to max out their donations who haven’t already.
In short: it’s not happening. Matched donations are (almost) total bullshit meant to make you donate, because you feel like if you can give a little right now, it’ll make more of a difference than if you donated without the match.
This is not a Trump-exclusive tactic. It’s not even Republican-exclusive. Just today, I read an article saying that my Michigan Democratic Senator, Gary Peters, was struggling with his fundraising against John James, a Black Republican who told me he supports everything President Trump does. I then noticed that Peters had sent me a fundraising email. I went to donate, but…
A nameless “group of committed donors?” So committed that they haven’t already maxed out to his campaign, and they won’t give him any more money unless I also give him money? That sounds, to me, like a bunch of asshole donors holding our democracy hostage.
Peters, I support you, and you have my vote, but this sort of scammy fundraising tactic has got to be relegated to the dustbin of history. We are not Republicans. We actually care about truth and honesty, and that begins at home, with how you treat your supporters.
Over the course of the Democratic Primary, a few candidates attempted to do this matching donation trick.
Julian Castro went the nameless generous donors route, which made those nameless generous donors look like real heels: they were emergency-matching donations to keep Castro in the race, but they wouldn’t help keep him in the race unless someone else donated first.
Michael Bennet also went the nameless generous donors route at least once
Joe Biden tried the nameless match at the end of September, though he didn’t really publicize it all that much. Sometimes it was on the buttons, sometimes in the ActBlue disclaimer, sometimes both, and very rarely was it actually mentioned in the email itself:
Then there were the candidates who tried a legitimate matching route.
Steve Bullock and (apparently) Michael Bennet applied for public funds. There are strict limitations on how to be approved for public campaign funds, but in a presidential primary, this is the only legitimate matching.
When you pay your taxes, you can check a box for $3 of the taxes being paid to go toward the public campaign fund. Candidates who have demonstrated broad public support (at least $250 in donations from at least 20 donors each in at least 20 states) can apply to have their donations matched from this fund, up to $250 per donor. Both Steve and Michael explained this in their latest matching emails, that your donation up to $250 would be matched.
Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker both went for a method that they called matching, but it wasn’t actually matching. They both emailed new donors to say “Hey, an existing donor will donate the same amount you do if you can donate now!”
Cory would match that email with a donor email going “Hey, can you inspire a new donor to donate by donating an amount we can then ask them to match?” Every time the non-donor email went out, the donor email also went out. I was never informed of donations actually being matched one-for-one, but the idea was there: hey, we’re asking new donors to donate because you donated/we’re asking existing donors to donate because you made your first donation.
Bernie said he was doing the same thing, but despite saying I could include a message for the non-donor I’d be asked to match with, the non-donor version always used the exact same message: Pamala from Florida.
There was actually more variety in the “personalized messages” given in the examples I was offered as a donor than there were in the non-donor versions.
However, what Cory and Bernie both did was another legitimate “match” offer, though it wasn’t really actually matching one-for-one. It was, however, making an attempt to match a donor for a donor.
I have found it very interesting to watch who is using “matching” techniques these days and who isn’t. The simple fact that out of 28 presidential candidates, only 3 went the nameless donor route (and 2 of them tried it one time and then ditched it) tells me enough. There isn’t a legitimate political matching system out there, and most of the Democratic candidates decided it was better to be honest.
Much to my cautious surprise, Joe Biden’s emails are actually, dare I say it… improving.
On Monday, James Taylor emailed me to talk about why we needed Biden.
In just three years of Donald Trump’s presidency, it feels like our government and America’s place in the world has been hollowed out — like a pumpkin on Halloween. The only difference is that there’s no light in there.
Instead, the White House is occupied by a puffed-up, self-absorbed, all-hat-and-no-cattle cowboy.
I don’t say this lightly, but it’s become more and more clear that Donald Trump is an inept and corrupt narcissist. And rather than facing the challenge of leading America through a national crisis, he’s refused to take responsibility and started lashing out at others.
We can’t afford four more years of a man who cares more about his own power and celebrity than he does about the health and success of our country.
Joe Biden understands the concept of public service. It has been his life’s commitment. Joe Biden hits the ground running. He comes to the White House with a full understanding of what the job of Chief Executive entails.
Joe Biden is the kind of leader we need right now. That’s why I’m not sitting out this election, and why I’m asking you to stay in this fight with me.James Taylor
Though his footnote to explain who he was (multiple Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter) didn’t assure me he wrote this email himself like Carole King’s always do, I appreciated the very different tone in this email. I particularly liked the description of America feeling hollowed out like a pumpkin. It meant the email connected with me on an emotional level, and I felt more interested in reading on. Taylor explained that Trump is bad, and he went on to explain a little bit about how Biden is good.
Taylor’s email was written by a writer, not a fundraiser.
But not only did Taylor write a good email, the campaign actually did what I’ve been begging for them to do for a month now: they talked about the Supreme Court victories in June.
Of course, they used a recent Supreme Court loss as the catalyst for sending the email.
As you’re probably well aware, recent Supreme Court decisions to protect LGBTQ+ workers from discrimination, preserve the DACA program, and strike down a dangerous anti-choice law in Louisiana were all decided by tight 6-3 and 5-4 votes. And last Wednesday they put out a ruling that makes it easier for the Trump-Pence Administration to continue to strip health care from women.
These were historic decisions, so we’re not kidding around when we say that the future majority and shape of the Supreme Court hang in the balance of whoever wins this November’s presidential election.JoeBiden.com
I never understand why his website keeps emailing me.
But anyway, finally, an email talking about current events in the courts. “As you’re probably well aware,” though… Biden, you could have been the one to make me aware, if you had talked about these historic decisions when they happened, and not a month late to the party.
But still, baby steps, baby steps, the emails on Monday were slightly improved. Maybe Tuesday’s emails will be another step forward, and Wednesday’s another, and Thursday’s another… until we’re actually getting an email campaign that we want to receive, and read, and talk about, and share.
Wouldn’t that be nice?