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Candidates Get Up Close and Personal with E-mail in September

  |  October 8, 2007   |  Comments

As the Q3 Federal Election Commission fundraising reporting deadline loomed, presidential candidates took advantage of the medium to raise cash.

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgE-mail is often thought best used by political campaigns for fundraising, and as the third quarter Federal Election Commission fundraising reporting deadline loomed, presidential candidates took advantage of the medium for just that. This time around, however, four of the top polling candidates tacked on incentives to coax contributions. Some also tried to make their messages seem more casual by employing subject line conventions typical of personal messages, such as Senator Hillary Clinton's "Re: Mind if I drop in?"

Some candidates offered incentives to help drive last-minute donations before the September 30 Q3 cutoff. According to information gathered by Email Data Source, Republicans Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney, along with Democrats John Edwards and Senator Clinton each held contests offering winners chances to spend time with them. Romney and McCain promised a chosen few the opportunity to travel on the campaign trail with them.

Edwards and Clinton got a bit more creative; Edwards awarded the winning donor the ability to help him rebuild hurricane-ravaged areas in New Orleans, while Clinton offered up lunch in her home to the winning giver.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani gave all contributors of $10 access to a Webcast of his National house party event.

Left-wing group MoveOn.org made an appearance in several messages from Republicans. An ad from MoveOn calling General Petraeus, commanding general in Iraq, "General Betray Us," was used as a foil to their own support of the military. In fact, Giuliani and McCain each went a step further, calling on Democratic frontrunner Senator Hillary Clinton to retract negative statements she'd made about Petraeus. One Giuliani campaign e-mail put the message in its subject line, demanding, "Call on Hillary Clinton to Apologize."

The 2008 presidential election has celebrity appeal with the official entrance of ex-Senator and TV actor Fred Thompson into the race, and it appears a couple of the non-celeb candidates wouldn't mind having a little stardust rub off on their own campaigns. For instance, a missive went out to McCain's e-mail list from former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach last month in the hopes of garnering campaign funds.

"We can't do our job in the fourth quarter unless we play hard in the third," he wrote.

Democratic contender John Edwards had his own TV star endorsement from James Denton, better known as Mike Delfino of ABC's "Desperate Housewives." A message from Edwards's daughter, Cate, sent September 30 featured a video plea from the actor.

While campaign observers often tout Web video as the ultimate personal format for campaign communication, the candidates have employed more casual tones in their e-mail messaging to help foster familiarity with voters. In recent months, a handful of campaign e-mails flooding supporters' inboxes have the look of ones sent among friends and colleagues. In September, Clinton, Romney and Democratic hopeful Senator Barack Obama referred to previous campaign messages with the familiar "RE:" and "FW:" preface in subject lines.

Recent messages from Obama's camp were headlined, "RE: This is real" and "RE: Hey." Romney's ran one titled, "Re: Your Ad," while Clinton's referenced previous messages with "Re: Mind if I drop in?" and "FW: Carrots." Those "Carrots"-related messages continued a tangential campaign theme established with Clinton's Web video spoof of "The Soprano's" final episode in which Hillary scolds her husband Bill for wanting to eat fried snacks.

The top Democratic campaigns sent the most e-mails between early September and early October. Obama sent 28 through October 3, Edwards sent 26, and Clinton sent 17 through October 4. Romney came close with 16 missives sent through October 5. Giuliani sent 11 through the 5th, and McCain sent 10 through the 6th.

Fred Thompson's campaign seemed to put e-mail on the backburner despite the fundraising reporting deadline, sending just two e-mail messages in September.

Recent E-mails from
Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee
Subject Sender Date Message/Issues Content Links
"Through the roof" "Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary for President" 10.2 Screenshot of handwritten "Thank you" from Hillary Campaign photos, contribute
"RE: Carrots" "Hillary Clinton" 9.29 Make contribution before deadline for chance to watch debate with Bill Contribute, watch with Bill
"Carrots" "Hillary Clinton" 9.27 Contribute to watch debate with Bill, Make sure Bill eats carrots instead of chips, Q3 deadline Contribute, watch with Bill
Source: Email Data Source, 2007

Recent E-mails from
John Edwards for President
Subject Sender Date Message/Issues Content Links
"BREAKING NEWS - Bush Vetoes Children's Health Care" "Joe Trippi, Edwards for President" 10.3 Bush's SCHIP veto, universal healthcare Contribute, join the campaign, spread the word
"YOU DID IT!" "David Bonior, Edwards for President" 10.1 Thank you for helping exceed fundraising goal Contribute, join the campaign, spread the word
"Desperate for Change? James Denton has a solution." "Cate Edwards" 9.30 Q3 fundraising, Mike Delfino from "Desperate Housewives" campaigning in Iowa Watch Delfino video, contribute, join the campaign, spread the word
Source: Email Data Source, 2007

Recent E-mails from
Obama '08
Subject Sender Date Message/Issues Content Links
"Major speech on Iraq" "David Plouffe, BarackObama.com" 10.3 2002 speech on Iraq War, U.S. foreign policy platform Watch video
"Obama rally in your city tomorrow" "David Plouffe, BarackObama.com" 10.1 Rallies in 18 cities to commemorate 5 year anniversary of his Iraq speech Join us
"We're leading in Iowa" "David Plouffe, BarackObama.com" 9.30 Large number of donations, leading polls in Iowa Donate
Source: Email Data Source, 2007

Recent E-mails from
Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee
Subject Sender Date Message/Issues Content Links
"Strategy Memo: 4th Quarter Kickoff" "Brent Seaborn, Strategy Director" 10.2 Polls, primary and national election standings Keep the momentum going, show your support
"The Only One Who Can Beat the Democrats" "Michael DuHaime, Team Rudy" 9.28 Q3 deadline, only candidate who can beat the Dems, Hillary Clinton, MoveOn.org Contribute, donate
"It's Not Too Late" "Rudy Giuliani House Party HQ" 9.25 House parties Register house party, map, $10 contribution for Webcast, Keep the momentum going, show your support
Source: Email Data Source, 2007

Recent E-mails from
John McCain 2008
Subject Sender Date Message/Issues Content Links
"In case you missed it: Ride the Bus with John McCain" "John McCain" 9.29 Contribute for a chance to ride the Straight Talk Express Donate
"The McCain Update (The Fleece is Back)" "John McCain Campaign" 9.28 Campaign apparel, First TV ads, donate, poll momentum, watch video Join our team, take action, make a donation
"Ride the Bus with John McCain" "John McCain Campaign" 9.27 Contribute for a chance to ride the Straight Talk Express Donate
Source: Email Data Source, 2007

Recent E-mails from
Romney for President
Subject Sender Date Message/Issues Content Links
"Thanks Friend" "Mitt Romney" 9.29 Contribute, neck-and-neck race, strong in primary states Act, donate
"Romney Week in Review - 9.28.07" "Romney for President" 9.28 "Change Washington Republicans", winning ad, Iran, Republican leadership conference, rally for Romney, Q3 fundraising Contribute, recruit, Mitt in the News, Watch Mitt TV, watch winning ad, watch speech
"Together" "Mitt Romney" 8.26 MoveOn.org ad, Iran Support, Contribute
Source: Email Data Source, 2007

Recent E-mails from
Friends of Fred Thompson
Subject Sender Date Message/Issues Content Links
"Join the Kick-Off Challenge" "Friends of Fred Thompson" 9.4 Kick off challenge, become a Kick off Champion, plan house party Sign up today, national house party
"He's In!" "Friends of Fred Thompson" 9.6 Candidacy announcement, house party, watch video updates, press coverage, bring Fred to your hometown Announcement speech, house party, press coverage, Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, del.icio.us, Twitter
Source: Email Data Source, 2007

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Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

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