When it comes to raising money by email, everybody’s got an angle. Some of the “ask” strategies being employed by the 2016 presidential candidates:
ENTER TO WIN
Who doesn’t love a shot at winning something? Ted Cruz invited supporters to “come shooting with me.” It was free to enter the contest to win a shooting outing with the Texas senator, but Cruz told supporters: “After you’ve entered, make a generous Shoot With Ted contribution of $35, $50, $100 or more to my campaign.” Jeb Bush threw a $3 contest promising that three winners would get a photo of Bush and his father “battling it out on the tennis court,” signed by both the candidate and the former president.
Tuesday’s end-of-quarter fundraising deadline is the real deal. The candidates all have to report how much cash they’ve raised during the quarter and then face judgment on what those numbers say about their viability. But, hey, why wait for a real deadline when you can make up one? Marco Rubio’s campaign urged supporters to help raise $44,000 in a day in honor of his 44th birthday. Columba Bush asked people to contribute to her husband in the first 24 hours of his campaign because “everyone is watching to see how much support we have out the gate.”
PIVOT OFF THE NEWS
Republican candidates turned last week’s Supreme Court rulings in support of the president’s health care law and same-sex marriage into a barrage of fundraising emails. One Rand Paul subject line on the health care ruling: “I’m afraid this is bad news, Fellow Conservative.” Rick Santorum took aim at the gay marriage ruling in a fundraising email urging supporters to help rescue America because “the relentless liberal agenda knows no pause.” $100, please.
Candidates trot out glowing endorsements from spouses and kids to gin up cash. Rick Perry’s wife, Anita, told supporters: “He’s the most principled man I’ve ever known” — and please donate to “have a front row seat to history.”
BASH THE MEDIA
Republicans love to convert press coverage that they consider unfavorable into cash. Rubio turned a story about the parking tickets his family had incurred into a lament over the “silly season” in politics and a plea for donations to help stay focused on “what really matters.” Because nothing focuses the mind, apparently, like money.
Big contributions are nice, but the little ones add up — and can say something about the depth of support for a candidate. Bernie Sanders made a decidedly lowball pitch as a way of making a statement in his Democratic campaign. “Stand up to the Super PAC attacking us by making a $3 contribution to our campaign today, and send a powerful message that you have had enough of the billionaire class buying elections,” he wrote.
Sometimes, it’s nice to check in with supporters without hitting them up for cash. Supporters are more likely to keep opening a candidate’s emails if it’s not always about the money. There’s no purchase necessary to enter Hillary Rodham Clinton’s contest to win dinner with the Democratic candidate, for example. And Carly Fiorina’s campaign sent out a chatty email from her friend and former business colleague Deb Bowker describing the Republican candidate as “a strong, determined, optimistic woman with a heart filled with a passion for service.” There’s no “ask” in either email. But recipients will surely be hearing more.