When we published our last update on Presidential campaign emails six weeks ago, Trump’s email audiences were a lot larger than Biden’s, with substantially more individual campaign and total email deployment. Both programs generated relatively high spam rates. Biden had better read rates. He was also the more prolific fundraiser, and was beating Trump in many polls.
Most of these same patterns have continued over these past five weeks, through both party conventions and beyond.
Email Audience Footprints: Our platform projects email audience size, based in part on the largest recent campaign send sizes we project. Trump’s audience is still more than twice as large as Biden’s. But while Trump’s audience has remained about the same since July, Biden’s has grown by about 7%. Putting the size differential in context, remember that Trump never stopped mailing to the considerable email audience he’d built for his 2016 campaign. Biden only began serious cultivation of his email audience when he mounted his 2020 campaign.
Send Activity – Campaigns: Trump deployed more campaigns than Biden in July, but Biden reversed that differential for each of the following five weeks. Notably, Biden deployed his largest number of weekly campaigns in the week before the Democratic convention. Trump deployed his largest number of weekly campaigns during the week before the Republican National Convention, which was also the week of the Democratic National Convention.
Send Activity – Emails: Trump’s actual email volumes are massively larger than Biden’s, reflecting not only the difference in their audience sizes, but also the likelihood that Biden’s emails are being more precisely targeted, with more personalized content to smaller audiences. Both Trump’s largest weekly sends began in the week following the traditional post-Labor Day campaign ramp-up. Biden’s second largest occurred in that week.
Inbox Performance: Typical of virtually all political email, these campaigns have relatively high spam rates, ranging from 26-33% (Trump), and 20-36% (Biden). Biden’s have improved in recent weeks. Trump’s are generally worse.
Read Rates: Trump may have a substantially larger email audience than Biden, but Biden’s emails drive read rates that are consistently about 40% better than Trump’s.
In terms of content and execution, these campaigns’ respective email programs continue to reflect the persona each candidate projects elsewhere. Subject line examples over the past few weeks speak for themselves:
- “Kamala and I will fight for workers and their families.”
- “[You’re Invited] Rural Farm and Food Workers Labor Day Roundtable” (as reported by Business Insider)”
- “bridges, not walls”
- “a country that lives up to its Constitution”
- “more fear, more lies, more division”
- “Watch me DESTROY Joe Biden”
- “The Left HATES you”
- “Crazy Nancy is a HYPOCRITE”
- “Slow Joe will raise taxes”
- “Jim Crow Joe”
- “The Radical Left is spreading more LIES”
Some of Trump’s subject lines say only, “New Ad Attached.” These messages have embedded links or videos with additional message content.
For an individual email recipient, Trump’s messaging still arrives about eight times per day, from early morning to late night. Campaigns are sometimes “from” Trump himself, but they’re often from Don Jr., Eric, Lara, and Melania, as well as Corey Lewandowski, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Tom Cotton and Newt Gingrich. Biden has proxies too; e.g., Elizabeth Warren; Madeleine Albright.
The Trump campaign has also long operated a popular swag store, heavily promoted with email. So if you’re looking for a MAGA hat (or coffee mug or welcome mat, or face mask or autographed Trump photo), they’ll sell you one. Back in July, they advertised a “Reagan-Trump Commemorative Coin Set.” The Reagan Foundation put a stop to that.
Especially this year, many factors other than email drive fund raising and voter perceptions. But because political email is deployed almost solely to drive cash contributions, the fundraising results of these two campaigns are relevant in assessing the possible impact of their very different program approaches.
This report from USA Today (9/9/2020) tells the story:
“Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden topped President Donald Trump in August fundraising by $154.5 million, likely giving the former vice president’s campaign a significant funding edge for the final two months of the race.
“The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and their joint fundraising committees raised $210 million last month, they reported Wednesday. That’s far short of the $364.5 million August haul the Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee and their joint fundraising efforts announced last week.
“Biden’s fundraising numbers shattered the one-month record for any presidential candidate.”
And the polling? According to the”Real Clear Politics” website, aggregate results of thirteen current national polls put Biden ahead of Trump by an average of 7.5 percentage points. Similar results are appearing in polls from many of the battleground states.