The Democrats are doing it again

I’ve made a few small donations to the Democratic party, and you know what that means: I now receive a flock of email — almost hourly — begging for more donations. And I’ve noticed something ugly about that email. It’s all about fear.

We’ve rightly berated the media for plumping up Trump’s prominence, but the Democrats are doing it, too. Nearly every email is moaning about the polls. The latest is telling me how terrified we should be, because Nate Silver says Trump has a 2 in 5 chance of winning the election. In fact, nearly every email from them is all about the growing power of this ogre who is crushing the opposition and growing in popularity every day, so give us more money.

Just stop it. Of course Trump has a chance; there are a lot of stupid, bigoted people in this country. But I don’t want to hear doom and gloom from his opposition, because it sounds like you’re already giving up. Tell me why the Democratic party is better, what you’ll do if we give you our vote, and how your policies are superior to those of the corrupt orange toad. And most of all, don’t give a good goddamn about the polls. I’m not going to vote for someone because they’re ahead or behind in some poll — that doesn’t influence me in the least, although apparently the Democrats want that to be the major factor in my decision about who I should support, because it’s all they talk about.

Also, I’m more than a little tired of anything to do with Nate Silver, who is the political equivalent of a horse racing tout. Don’t care. Shut up about polls, tell me more about policy.


  1. numerobis says

    Clinton has so many good reasons to vote *for* her, but has decided instead on making this a referendum on Trump instead.

  2. michaelvieths says

    I donated to the International Wolf Center, and I got a hand-written thank you letter.
    I donated to the DFL, and I got an envelope so I could send them more money.

  3. Sunday Afternoon says

    Polls are the output of the political process, but too often are treated as inputs. Sigh…

  4. rietpluim says

    There is a strange asymmetry between Democrats and Republicans. The first seem to decline from stupidity, where the latter seem to gain.

  5. blf says

    michaelvieths@3, Sorry for a possibly silly question, but what is the “DFL”? A quick search founds multiple possibilities.

  6. wcorvi says

    Statistically, a person who just donated is the most likely to donate again. That is why you get more begging almost immediately. That, and they already HAVE your e-mail address.

    I have a throw-away e-mail at yahoo to use for any site that requires one that I suspect will harvest it for spam. Or, just anyone I don’t want to ever hear from again.

  7. HappyNat says

    We’ve heard the “lesser of two evils” for so long that now it’s become the democratic party platform.

  8. mamba says

    Maybe they are worried e-mails because they have reason to be worried?

    Oh not like they think Trump is a better candidate…far from it! But PZ, you said it best…”there are a lot of stupid bigoted people in the country”. I’d suggest that you might have underestimated just how MANY stupid bigoted people there are in the country.

    The democrats haven’t…they are touring the country…they’ve been everywhere. They have talked to the people. And all across the country they have seen stupid bigoted people. and they know that they will vote with no thought to long-term politics at all.

    You have some faith in the American people to see beyond Trump’s lies and BS, but Hillary sure as hell doesn’t have that faith, and why should she? After all she’s seen and been through in politics, she knows better than anyone how the game really is played, and it’s never through intelligent reasonable discussion of items. It’s through shenanigans, lies, and fear mongering. In that regard at least, Trump has her beat.

    You’re making the mistake that the American voters are passionate about issues and will vote for the best candidate. Hillary knows that is not necessarily the case for over 60% of your citizens. You’re just seeing that fear coming across as she tries to adapt the polite way of saying “Come ON, do you really hate me that much that you’re thinking of Trump as a batter person? THINK people, THINK HARD about what you’re doing to your country!!!”

    Problem is, a good portion of your citizens hear that and tune out while Trump stokes their basic instincts with no policy with a crap to even discuss. He doesn’t care about facts because he knows that over half of you don’t either.

    Thus what should be the easiest victory for Hillary becomes a horse race, and since facts are irrelevant, she’s scared of losing a game by appealing to the BEST nature of the voters, assuming they are smart and reasonable people.

    She apparently forgot what country she was talking to…

  9. Derek Vandivere says

    I managed to finally get off the Dem’s list when I told them I wasn’t American any more so couldn’t donate…

  10. says

    That’s a problem with being the lesser of two evils: it’s really hard to drum up excitement from your victims. “Uh. Yay. Sucks less! Go! Go! No, you can’t have a dime, I might need it for something that doesn’t annoy me.”

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Well, if Clinton were to focus on, say, her own record as a progressive, she’d have … hrrmmm.

    I plan, reluctantly, to vote for her on exactly the grounds of her present campaign theme – and only because I live in a swing state.

  12. robro says

    wcorvi — “Statistically, a person who just donated is the most likely to donate again.”

    Sure, and it’s almost expected. What gets me…and I think this is what PZ is saying…is their tone. A sampling of the subject lines of the emails I get would give an idea: “DEEP trouble,” “SERIOUS trouble,” “Obama BEGGING,” and “Obama PLEADING.” They aren’t all doom-and-gloom, of course, but a lot are and they are clearly trying to panic the liberal herd.

    There is one email that mentions him by name, which I would strongly encourage them to avoid doing because it simply feeds the click-bait dog race we’re in. I suppose it’s silly of me, but I’m thinking I’ll stop using his actual name in posts and I’ll stop clicking links to articles about him. I know he’s a jerk, I can get the gist from headlines, and I don’t need details.

    In 2008 a journalist wrote that she was going to stop writing about Palin and linking to stories about her. She encouraged other writers to do the same, and readers to stop clicking and feeding the click-bait mill. It seemed to me that Palin started to fade from the scene shortly after that, at least it did for me which was enough…and where has she gone?

    I think #TheConMan is thriving off the same shtick. The media loves click bait. If you sell eyeballs to advertisers, you could hardly be blamed for posting a story about his latest outrageousness because you know you’ll get eyeballs and your customers (advertisers) will love you. The more we click the more we get and the more attention he gets.

    I don’t pretend such gestures have any impact on what happens, but it’s a simple thing I can do and I’ll feel better about it.

  13. qwints says

    As the recipient of these e-mails since the 2008 Obama primary campaign, I’d be willing to bet that their data shows that “DISASTER” gets more donations than other types of appeals. That’s really the only metric the people designing those e-mails care about because it’s so easily measured. We’ll probably only see ones actually designed to get people to vote in November.

  14. robro says

    qwints — “…I’d be willing to bet that their data shows that “DISASTER” gets more donations than other types of appeals.”

    As a someone in the business of analyzing the free data customers give businesses (like what messages result in some desired behavior), I’m betting you’re 100% correct. That’s why I clicked an appeal from “Hillary” (sure, I know better) asking for donations related to the upcoming debate (again, just the window dressing). It’s my little way of telling them that I prefer those messages to the “DISASTER” ones.

  15. Silver Fox says

    The other day I got a letter from Donald J. Trump asking me for a donation. Me! The envelope had my correct middle name, which almost no one else knows, so I assume they culled it from the county registrar’s office records. The letter lists all of the reasons one shouldn’t vote for Hillary: she supports a Public Option in health care, she supports Common Core, she supports amnesty for illegal immigrants which means they will become ‘hardened’ Democrats. Then it goes on to say that Trump will force companies to stay in the USA, he will go on a massive military spending spree and of course, he will take great care of our veterans (here I am!). That last one makes me wonder how I will benefit. No one has taken great care of me since I was a kid living at home. I wonder what that means? Can I stay up late and eat ice cream for breakfast?

    This must be part of Trump’s new “ground game” here in Virginia. It’s actually hilarious because the only time I ever voted Republican was a bit of guerilla action in the primaries. They obviously didn’t know my motives so they must assume I’m one of them. My wife suggested I write a great big Fuck You on the donation form and mail it back to them and let them eat the postage. I might do that. Or I might save it as souvenir. If Herr Drumpf were to win I might find myself feeling like a communist in Hitler’s Germany. Then I could wave the donation letter and hope it would act as a get out of jail card. On the other hand I might have to break down and get an assault rifle, just in case.

  16. A Masked Avenger says

    Pierce R Butler beat me to it. How can she run on her policies? “Kowtow to the monied interests that paid for my campaign” just doesn’t whip up the masses very much. Or how about, “A more or less seamless continuation of the policies of Obama, which was a more or less seamless continuation of the policies of Bush”? That’s really redundant with the previous one, because the big interests that fund one party by and large fund both, so it’s not coincidental that they overlap to a substantial degree.

    It’s more or less invariant under change in ruling party: the chance of a law passing has no correlation with the percentage of the populace that wants it–but correlates very strongly with the percentage of one-percenters who want it.

  17. says

    “We’re leading in the ‘polls’ so send MONEY!”
    “We’re lagging behind in the ‘polls’ so send MONEY!”
    Regardless of the status, the message is always the same: “send MONEY!”
    I’ve systematically been unsubscribing from all political email lists, and when asked for a reason, I’ve said that’s exactly why. All of the candidates are wealthier than I am by several orders of magnitude.

  18. says

    These letters and emails are a form of mass marketing — sent out to huge numbers of people in a way that research shows is most likely to elicit the largest number of positive responses. They aren’t tailor-made for any individual, and they sure as heck aren’t policy white papers. If you expect someone to craft an appeal specific your particular desires and personality type, you’re going to have to become a major donor.

    I’m frankly surprised you pay any attention to them at all. I immediately delete or send to spam any fundraising emails no matter who they’re from, unless I have good reason to do otherwise, and if they become bothersome I simply unsubscribe. Snail-mail letters typically go straight to the recycling bin unless there’s some swag inside I could use. Are you seriously new to all of this?

  19. says

    “Regardless of the status, the message is always the same: “send MONEY!””

    I would find it rather odd if I were ever sent a fund-raising appeal in which they did not ask for money. It kinda the whole definition of fund-raising.

  20. Akira MacKenzie says

    Tell me why the Democratic party is better…

    But..but… TRUMP WOULD BE WORSE!!! What more do you want?

    …what you’ll do if we give you our vote, and how your policies are superior to those of the corrupt orange toad.

    (Gasp) WE CAN’T DO THAT! Taking an actual stand on policy would mean alienating potential voters, endangering the Big Tent we’ve worked so hard to create! I mean, if we stood for anything the Republicans might call us “commies” and socialists (just like they are doing right now) and we’d have to waste time and money trying to defend them!

  21. peggin says

    The best was the time I made a donation and got an e-mail just a couple of hours later, acknowledging my earlier donation and asking for more money. I still want the Dems to win, but I hit the “unsubscribe” button immediately. If your response to my donation is “gee thanks, but that’s not enough” then you don’t get any more of my money, ever.

  22. alkaloid says

    “Tell me why the Democratic party is better, what you’ll do if we give you our vote, and how your policies are superior to those of the corrupt orange toad.”

    What do you mean “if” you give them your vote? You already committed to giving them your vote anyways so they have absolutely no obligation to care about anything you say or want.

  23. microraptor says

    I’ve never donated to any political anything online (have made a few in-person cash donations that didn’t have my name or email address actually attached to them) but I still get flooded with email requests for donations from the Democrats.

  24. Pierce R. Butler says

    pensnest @ # 22 – I used your link to go to the Clinton website Issues page.

    I searched for “Libya”: no luck. “Middle East” – nope.

    I finally found a link with the very Republican heading of “National Security”. Oh joy. Click.

    With policies that keep us strong and safe, America will lead the world in the 21st century.

    The whole thing reads like America’s Favorite War Criminal® hired a Shrub writer, right down to the bragging about imposing “crippling sanctions against Iran”. And lots of uncritical cheerleading for Israel and its brutal belligerence.

    On to the “Military and Defense” page. Big headline about American exceptionalism (gag). Some “support the military” and “smart spending” rhetoric (no specifics, one allusion to “curbing runaway cost growth in areas like health care and acquisition”).

    Neither page uses a word I’ve grown fond of: “peace”.

    Nothing at makes me want to change a byte of my # 13, except maybe to add a “very” in front of that “reluctantly”.

  25. jaake says

    Surely, you have better places to get your information than from fund-raising emails, yes?

    I’d like the Democrats positions to be further to the left, but I know what those positions are. I assume you do too.

    In case that assumption is wrong, here’s the party platform:

    @pensnest above already gave you the link to Clinton’s site.

    Of course, that’s just what they say their positions are. But it’s not that hard to find reasonable projections of what the Democrats will do, what a democratic president and/or senate and/or house will mean for education, for climate policy, for the supreme court, etc. etc. (ditto for your local offices)

  26. anchor says

    Considering that Clinton’s campaign has spent over $200 million on political ads, combined with their constant whining about poll positions, it seems obvious they’re not doing it right…whatever it is they are supposed to be doing with money. They want to ‘win’ and think they can persuade people in spending it for ads that persuade nobody. They just don’t get it. They never learn either.

  27. foshka says

    Of course they are going to reach out to you. People who have given in the past are most likely to give in the future. That is pretty much the foundation of fund raising for schools, museums, political parties, etc.

  28. starfleetdude says

    It’s easy enough to unsubscribe to email appeals if you’ve had enough, and there’s also plenty of policy information out there to be had from the Clinton campaign and other sources.

  29. says

    Why are people quoting websites as a place to learn about politician’s policies??
    What’s on the website and what they do when they’re in office appears to have absolutely no relationship? Are you seriously suggesting we should read and believe what is doubtless a bunch of spin-marketing lies? Were you born yesterday? I wasn’t.

  30. monad says

    @32 Marcus Ranum:
    Politician’s websites are a terrible place to learn about good policies, like you say. But they can still be informative, because sometimes you see straight out bad policy, and that tells you they don’t even understand it’s bad. Pierce’s example, where “peace” would be so easy to say and yet is missing, is another good case.

  31. wzrd1 says

    Ah, but everyone missed my favorite e-mail title.

    Oh, well, you’re doomed and now deleted. Along with the other 95% of my daily e-mail load of political beggared e-mails. All 200 of them per frigging day.

  32. thomasjbarrett says

    If it makes you feel any better, Nate Silver has been saying that same thing for a month on the FiveThirtyEight election podcast – Clinton’s best chance is to start hammering on why she’s the better choice, not why Trump is the worse choice.

    You know, my FB feed is full of Dem friends posting videos of her speaking at rallies and town hall meetings. Every time I see them I’m impressed with her calm, rational, caring, and reasonable answers and thoughts. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s one of the best candidates for the job in years, but, hey, that’s not the narrative that we want to tell, is it?

  33. blf says

    Clinton’s best chance is to start hammering on why she’s the better choice, not why Trump is the worse choice.

    Lindy West (“a Seattle-based writer, editor and performer whose work focuses on pop culture, social justice, humour and body image”), writing in her weekly(?) opinion column in the Grauniad, seems to concur, Hating Trump isn’t enough — we need to talk about why Clinton rules:

    If we care about our future as a non-blown-up planet, it’s time to stop treating the Democratic candidate as if she’s barely better than a literal white supremacist

    If there’s one thing Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign has taught us it’s to view every depraved moral nadir as a challenge, not a destination. You think this is bad? Wait for the tangy mouth garbage he’s got stewing for tomorrow. Then forget about it instantly — everyone else will! I heard state department employees sometimes email each other!!!


    I cannot wait to vote for Hillary Clinton, but not just because I want to see Donald Trump fail and cry.

    Clinton is pro-choice. This means she does not want to force anyone to give birth to their rapist’s child, or carry a dead foetus inside of their body for 20 weeks, or derail their future because sex is great and everyone has it and accidents happen, or otherwise be a nonconsensual incubator of any kind. Clinton wants to make it harder, not easier, to buy guns. […]

    Clinton believes in guaranteed paid family leave […].

    Clinton wants to tax rich people more than poor people, which is a sentence that no one should have to type ever again.

    Clinton’s platform addresses mass incarceration, the school-to-prison pipeline, climate change, violence against trans women of colour, the systemic neglect of veterans, mental health stigma, voting rights, student loan debt, public education and affordable health care. Clinton is the candidate whose views best represent my own.

    Whether or not you feel comfortable with every decision and position in Clinton’s past (I do not), she is qualified for this job.

    Ms West does go and compare Secretary Clinton with teh trum-prat (it’s rather hard not to do, as the differences are so stark):

    [… S]omehow, 42% of my country apparently believes that Donald Trump is more qualified to address foreign policy and “safety” than an actual seasoned diplomat. Do you guys think “secretary of state” is the kind of secretary who gets the president coffee? Is that the confusion?


    So let’s try again: you’re voting for a president soon. Do you want a graduate of Yale law school who served eight years as a US senator and four as secretary of state? Or a racist landlord who moonlights as a tie salesman?


  34. snuffcurry says

    I’m not going to vote for someone because they’re ahead or behind in some poll — that doesn’t influence me in the least, although apparently the Democrats want that to be the major factor in my decision about who I should support, because it’s all they talk about.

    Nowhere in the e-mails you’re citing are you being asking to vote because of polls. Quite literally the opposite. They are not soliciting your vote. They think that because you’ve donated money, you’re more-or-less a sure thing come election day. They would like to reach out to people who are not sure things. To do that, they need money. Hence they are asking what they perceive to be their base to donate some.

    Meanwhile Stein is funding her campaign using public subsidies provided through the Presidential Election Campaign Fund program, a program that is useless at this point, has failed to deliver the better opportunities it promised, and needs to be replaced with better, more tenable campaign finance reform that can be properly sold to the public.

  35. mostlymarvelous says

    18 A Masked Avenger

    Pierce R Butler beat me to it. How can she run on her policies? “Kowtow to the monied interests that paid for my campaign” just doesn’t whip up the masses very much.

    Kowtow to the monied interests? If you look at her Issues pages – especially the more detailed Fact Sheets – on 1) Wall Street, 2) campaign finance and 3) a fair tax system, there’s not a lot of kowtowing to be seen.

    Not being American, I don’t have to decide for myself. If I did, her commitment to getting rid of Citizens United would be enough to get my vote. (And I’d dearly like the chance to vote on any constitutional amendment on the subject she comes up with.)

  36. AlexanderZ says


    But I don’t want to hear doom and gloom from his opposition, because it sounds like you’re already giving up. Tell me why the Democratic party is better, what you’ll do if we give you our vote, and how your policies are superior to those of the corrupt orange toad. And most of all, don’t give a good goddamn about the polls. I’m not going to vote for someone because they’re ahead or behind in some poll

    If you’ve already donated to them they very much rightly assume that you’re already know why they’re better and that you’re going to vote for them. Their only concern now is that you help them to get other people to vote as well and since you’re not on the registry of get out and vote volunteers they believe, rightly again, that your further contributions will be monetary, if any.
    Furthermore, while policy is very important, most people have already made their minds by now. At this point in the race polls are the only thing that matters.

  37. blf says

    [M]ost people have already made their minds by now. At this point in the race polls are the only thing that matters.

    No, historically, undecided people are only beginning to decide now, and a surprising number claim to remain undecided until, approximately, polling day. (People who identify strongly with a candidate, party, whatever do tend to have “decided” by this time.) This election may be different, given the vast gulf between the two predominating criminal gangs.

  38. anbheal says

    Yes, the DCCC is off-message. “Oh My God, Did You See What Nate Silver Just Said???” is NOT a reason to donate money or vote for Clinton.

    But a lot of the Bernie hangover and the messaging about Hillary being a Wall St. toady is CLEARLY planted by Koch Brothers operatives in the media and blog-o-sphere. When she was running against Obama, nobody said she wasn’t progressive. She ran to the left of him. She said she’d withdraw from Iraq on the first day of her presidency. Her voting record in the Senate is more than 90 percent allied with Bernie’s. Yeah, of course she soft-pedals some stuff, such as gun control, because she’s savvy about the electoral college. And yeah, she takes money from the big boys, and gives speeches to them — for the very same reason! If Wall St. gangs up against you, good luck with matching the opponent’s fund-raising and ad campaign power. And of course she needs to be a bit hawk-ish, because the Right’s biggest selling point is that they hate Muslims more than those latte-drinkers and French do. As this season has amply demonstrated, racism and ethnocentrism and jingoistic chest-thumping are electoral gold.

    But if anybody honestly thinks she’d be any less progressive than Obama, they need to schedule a visit with a neurologist.

  39. AlexanderZ says

    blf #40

    No, historically, undecided people are only beginning to decide now

    Yes, but undecided, or true undecided, are a relatively small group. Most so-called undecided are either stealth Republicans or Democrats who will only vote for their party but are undecided on whether they should get out and vote this time or not.
    Either way, policy discussion isn’t particularly important to those groups since they either reject the established policy of the candidates (a friendly reminder, this election cycle has been going on for nearly a year and a half – if someone doesn’t know where each candidate stands then they don’t want to know) or are indifferent to it. Emotional approaches are the only way to sway those people and that can be done through mostly through ads (money) or face-to-face interactions (volunteers).
    That’s why I’ve said that polls are the only thing that matters at this stage of the race.

  40. says

    It’s really too bad that we have no idea how a Clinton would act as president. If only we had 8 years of a Clinton presidency to use as an example. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to keep letting my prejudice determine what I think she thinks, as opposed to listening to what she actually says and does.

  41. r3a50n says

    A few points; first to #38:

    …her commitment to getting rid of Citizens United would be enough to get my vote.

    This is the problem with so many Clinton supporters, they believe every word she says even though her actions say something else entirely. And when the rest of us judge her by her actions and not her words, we get chastised by her supporters for saying that her positions are anything other than what she says they are, even though her actions clearly demonstrate otherwise.

    Citizens United is a clear example. Clinton SAYS she wants to overturn CU, ostensibly because she knows that that’s what Democrats want to hear, but that flies in the face of her actions. The argument that prevailed in the CU decision was that unless there is a direct connect-the-dots quid pro quo where a specific donation can be matched to a specific action, then there is no corruption. Most people understand that to be a fallacious argument and one that SHOULD be overturned. Except that this is the EXACT argument that Clinton uses to deflect questions about all those exorbitant speaking fees she accepted.

    So while Clinton may well SAY she wants to overturn CU (and her loyal supporters will believe her unquestioningly), she has no valid argument against it without undermining her own defense of herself for accepting the speaking fees.

    So with respect to the argument that Clinton wants to overturn CU, you can believe what she SAYS or, if you are not a loyal supporter willing to believe every word out of her mouth unquestioningly, you can believe your lying eyes, watch what she DOES and see that she has no real desire to see CU overturned but is just saying that she does as a political calculus because that’s what she thinks the majority of voters want to hear so they’ll vote for her.

    Second, to #36, emphasis mine:

    So let’s try again: you’re voting for a president soon.

    This is the faulty assumption that so many Clinton supporters make. They seem to believe that all of the new voters that Sanders got engaged, that had been previously disaffected or disenfranchised and weren’t previously participating in the political system, will still be participating now that Sanders is no longer running (and worse yet, that Clinton is entitled to their votes, but I digress…).

    That is an entirely faulty assumption. For Sanders supporters that felt disaffected before, Clinton represents the very political establishment that disenfranchised them. They supported Sanders and wanted to get involved in politics because Sanders represented a real break from the establishment. He represented real change and that’s why so many NEW voters supported him. Clinton represents more of the same so a lot of those new voters are now most likely not going to be voters at all.

    Clinton supporters can chastise those people all they want (and they do, prolifically) but that will only turn them off more, it won’t inspire them to go to the polls and vote for the candidate whose supporters and surrogates have done nothing but insult them (a lesson they have clearly still not learned).

    What is clearly missing and that the Clinton camp just can’t seem to muster: articulating some concise reasons to vote FOR Clinton rather than reasons to vote AGAINST Trump. Something to inspire voters rather than all the crap designed to try and scare them. And I mean the campaign actually ARTICULATING them in a way other than “go to her website…” If that’s the only way for voters to understand what she stands for and why they should vote FOR her, reading through dry, verbose and boring policy positions, that’s another indication of how poorly she has run her campaign and what a perennially bad candidate she really is. And why she is likely to lose.

  42. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    He represented real change and that’s why so many NEW voters supported him.

    No, he represented the idea of real change. Real change requires Congress built into any expectations for real change. The Bernie Backers (I voted for Sanders in the primary, but never thought his agenda would be enacted to any extent) who think that a president can just order change and it will happen are not thinking in a realistic manner, if either house of Congress is dominated by obstructionists.

  43. ftltachyon says

    To the original thread again, it seems pretty evident – once you’ve already said you’re voting for the democrats, it’s a waste of everyone’s time to re-convince you of that!

    Everybody on the mailing list is assumed to be convinced already; the goal is to get them to actually show up at the polls on the big day (by emphasizing the importance of the election) and to get them to help convince OTHER people or give money. It’s not to convince you of the relative merits of the two candidates.

    If you want to see the candidates convince you, watch what they say to undecided voters, or in public forums with large audiences which will have some.