The Epic Drama of Democratic Fundraising

I’ve written about the Democratic Party’s formulaic fundraising in past election cycles. They are doing exactly the same thing this year, so evidently it must work. The key to the Democrats’ approach is that it is entirely non-substantive. Emails to the party’s rank and file never mention a fact or an argument, seldom even an issue. The appeal is elemental: there are two teams, Our Team and The Other Team, and you are a member of Our Team. Sometimes they suggest that Our Team are the good guys and The Other Team consists of bad guys, but they often don’t even bother with that. It is pure tribalism.

The drama always begins with a threat of disaster. On May 28, Barack Obama sent me an email with the subject heading “(important) don’t delete.” The drama always begins with The Other Team way ahead in fundraising, although how they could know this is unclear, since the current month’s totals have not yet been reported. Barack said:

It’s the weekend, so I’ll be quick. I’m emailing for $1 and for your help.

House Republicans have a cash advantage on Democrats — but that’s not all. They’ve built a war chest bigger than ever before in history.

That’s a problem.

If we let this continue, it puts our chance to win a Democratic Congress in serious jeopardy.

We can’t afford to fall behind now — not with the big End of Month Deadline in 72 hours.

A few hours later, my good friend Michelle Obama emailed with the subject “please read this (a few seconds).” (All of these emails, of course, came from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.) The tone wasn’t yet one of desperation:

My husband, Barack Obama, asked for your help.

And now I’m asking.

We’re both reaching out because so much is at stake.

Now, though, The Other Team must have begun pulling away, because the anxiety level skyrocketed. The next time it was a “TRIPLE MATCH ALERT” from the DCCC. The subject heading was “DIRE problem.” Why? Because President Obama “just issued this warning”:

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Is that true? I hope so, but I highly doubt it.

Frankly, if we keep falling behind, our chance of winning a Democratic Congress will completely slip away.

We can’t let The Other Team win! But I always wonder, why is the situation so dire if the Democrats have rich people standing by to triple match all contributions?

Next–we are now up to May 29–came emails ostensibly from Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. Ms. Pelosi wrote:

President Obama emailed you.

Vice President Biden emailed you.

Even First Lady Michelle Obama reached out.

Now, I’m reaching out because the situation is urgent.

Republicans have built up a concerning $5 million lead when it comes to money in the bank.

Now, my team is telling me we are dangerously behind our goal just 2 days before the End of Month Deadline. That would be a huge setback.

I really need you to step up here. We need 50 more gifts from Saint Paul to reach our goal in time. Can you chip in $1?

The DCCC still didn’t hear from me, so they started pulling out the stops. First, I got this from Michelle Obama:

Republicans have built a war chest of HISTORIC proportions.

It’s even more than they had in OCTOBER 2O14!

If we can’t close the gap on their $5,OOO,OOO advantage, we will lose our chance to win Congress and protect President Obama’s progressive legacy.

A couple of hours later, the DCCC emailed me, with the subject heading “DEVASTATING news.” That was followed the next morning by “MASSIVE loss.” Then came “CRUSHING defeat” and “HUGE loss.” The idea was that The Other Team was still ahead. I assume that no numbers for the current month had been reported, so this was sheer fantasy. This is the message that accompanied “HUGE loss.”

We’re really worried.

Every top Democratic leader has emailed you — but we’re still way behind on our End of Month goal.

Worse, we’re way behind the Republicans: They have $5 MILLION more in the bank than we do.

We have to pick up the pace, and fast.

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The emails were now coming thick and fast, even though I have never donated anything to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Just two hours later, Michelle Obama emailed me again. She said:

The Republicans have more cash than ever before in the history of politics. And we’re running out of time to hit our goal.

If we let them outraise us yet again, our chances of winning a Democratic Congress and protecting the Obamas’ legacy is torn to shreds.

What is that legacy? Who knows? But the Obamas are Our Team.

Next came a missive from Julia Ager, the DCCC’s Digital Director. She reviewed, sadly, the history of Our Team’s unsuccessful fundraising efforts. Subject heading: “HEARTBREAKING loss.”

It’s late at night, but I wanted to quickly reach out.

Every top Democrat emailed you recently. And I was so excited to check the numbers and see that we crushed our goal.

But that’s not what happened.

-After President Obama asked? No jump.
-After Vice President Biden asked? No jump.
-After Leader Pelosi asked? Still no jump.

Look — our leaders are worried. Republicans have built up the largest campaign war chest in history. Getting outraised on tomorrow’s big deadline isn’t an option. Our chances to win Congress could vanish.

Help us close the gap. Gifts are triple-matched.

I have noticed over the years that gifts to the Democrats are ALWAYS triple-matched. So maybe my $1 isn’t quite so critical. What is critical is that I support Our Team.

Next came another email from Nancy Pelosi, then one from the DCCC headed “ALL HOPE IS LOST.” This arrived on the morning of May 31:

President Obama reached out.

Vice President Biden followed up.

First Lady Michelle Obama asked for your help.

And Leader Nancy Pelosi emailed you early this morning.

All the top Democrats are asking for your help because the Republicans are sitting on a war chest of TERRIFYING size.

If we fall behind now, we will lose our chance to protect President Obama’s progressive legacy.

We need grassroots Democrats like you to step up before the Triple Match expires!

Actually, of course, the Triple Match never expires. And May 31 is just one month-end deadline among many–they come around every 30 days or so, and so does Democratic Party hysteria.

By this time, the Democrats were getting seriously unhappy with me. They gave me a “FINAL NOTICE” to renew my membership in the Democratic Party, or else! Or else what?

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If I were actually a member of Our Team, imagine the guilt that these messages would provoke! Happily, being a Republican and all, I am immune to such sentiments. So, since I didn’t send in any money, the emails kept coming–despite the fact that the last one was the FINAL NOTICE.

Do you think we must be nearing the conclusion of this nearly endless series of emails? Ha! You are obviously unfamiliar with the dogged persistence of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They were just getting warmed up!

Now, in rapid succession, they sent me emails from Joe Biden [“important (don’t delete)”] and Michelle Obama (“unfortunately”). Michelle says: “Our Democrats are being outspent — and not by a small amount.” Can that be true? The parties are raising money, but who is spending it, except perhaps in primaries? I think this is language carried over from later stages of prior cycles.

This was the point at which things really went bonkers. The next email came from [email protected]. Despite the apparent urgency, the message hadn’t changed much:

To be honest, we’re worried.

First Lady Michelle Obama just reached out for the SECOND time, to remind you of how important today is:

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Make no mistake — if we can’t compete with the Republicans’ massive war chest, we can kiss our chances of winning a Democratic Congress goodbye.

The Democrats’ hysteria neared its climax. As the hours ticked down on May 31, the DCCC sent another alarmist email, subject heading “DISASTROUS conclusion.”

We can hardly believe it.

We’re still behind — even after Michelle Obama reached out to remind you how important this is.
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The First Lady’s calling on you to step up now — before tonight’s End of Month Deadline closes!

If 5,657 grassroots Democrats don’t step up in the next three hours, we won’t have the resources we need to win a Democratic Congress.

I love the specificity! They need 5,657 more donations–amount unspecified, but presumably tripled–to catch The Other Team. Who could possibly believe such nonsense? Democrats, evidently.

Now the drama reaches its inevitable happy ending. With just an hour and a half to go in the month of May, the DCCC changed its tune and sent out an email headed “A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!” Who could believe it? After days of desperation, the Democrats have caught up with and surpassed The Other Team!

We’ll make this quick.

We weren’t sure we would be able to compete with the Republicans’ massive fundraising haul.

But grassroots Democrats went above and beyond… and now we’re within striking distance of our BIGGEST FUNDRAISING MONTH OF THE ELECTION!!!

Will you help push us over the top? We need just 2,683 Democrats to pitch in to hit our goal before the important End of Month Deadline.

Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat! As always, in these carefully scripted Democratic Party dramas. This shouldn’t be surprising: Our Team has, in general, access to more money from big contributors than The Other Team. Yet the drama is re-enacted month after month, cycle after cycle. Somehow, against all odds, Our Team always comes out on top!

This afternoon, the Democrats did a victory lap to celebrate their fundraising victory over The Other Team.

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There is more, but I will spare you a little cuteness. Here is the conclusion:

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I didn’t contribute to the DCCC and I won’t be ordering an Obama sticker. Still, Our Team won, and I can share in the glory. I assume that people who actually contributed receive even more triumphant emails, but perhaps not.

What I have seen in every election cycle, as a purported member of the Democratic Party, is that the Democrats treat their rank and file like children of subnormal intelligence. They enact the same faux drama, beginning in despair and ending in triumph, month after month and cycle after cycle. Apparently their donors don’t notice, or don’t care. What can we say? The Democrats know their audience, evidently, as they consistently outraise the Republican Party, which actually tries to cite facts and arguments in explaining why its members should contribute.

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