Presidential Campaign Email: Not Everything About The Donald Is Big

Article by John Landsman CATEGORIES: Uncategorized TAGS:

By John Landsman, Director of Strategy and Analytics

We’ve reached what may be the final wrap of this Presidential Primary season. June 7th had six states in play, among them California and New Jersey. Trump had already clinched his nomination, and now so has Clinton. But the contest continues for Democrats, despite its virtually inevitable outcome. We’ve kept tracking email activity of the three longest running candidates over the past two months — a period also encompassing completed primaries in twelve other states. The patterns remain quite interesting.

  • Trump continues to make very limited use of email.   We project his active list size to be a comparatively small 1.1 million, with little or no net growth over the past two months. His inbox placement is several points lower than we’ve reported for previous periods, but his read rates remain very high. As in previous periods, Trump mailed only a small fraction of the number of campaigns of either Clinton or Sanders. Regarding concerns about Trump’s ability to raise funds for a national campaign with such a small email list, he has a possible out. We estimate that his former Republican opponents had accumulated email lists totaling almost 19 million people (not deduped for overlaps). Many of those names might well find their way to the Trump campaign for further solicitation. (We suspect that the one million names on Jeb Bush’s list will not be among them.)
  • Secretary Clinton has grown her email list by over 30% since our last report, and has maintained solid inbox placement. Her read rates are less than half those of Trump, but she continues to maintain an intense mailing cadence.
  • Senator Sanders has not appreciably grown his list size since our last report, and his inbox placement has slipped considerably. His read rates remain slightly higher than Clinton’s, and he has maintained a strong mailing cadence, though still not much more than half of Clinton’s activity. If/when Sanders leaves the race, it is possible that his email list will go to the Clinton campaign (net of their considerable list overlap — see below for more detail on overlaps).

Note: The CAN-SPAM Regulations would normally prohibit the kind of list-sharing we’re describing here. But when our clever politicians passed CAN-SPAM, they exempted themselves (i.e., political email activity) from it.

One strange sidebar to our story: Rand Paul has been out of the Presidential race since February. All the other Republican drop-outs stopped mailing to their Presidential campaign lists soon after suspending their campaigns. Not Senator Paul. With an estimated list size of 1.4 million, he has continued to mail into that list to support his Senatorial reelection effort — 86 email campaigns over just the past two months. It hasn’t worked. This activity shows an 81% spam rate, and a dismal read rate of only 4.3%. There’s a painful lesson here about the repurposing of email lists.

Of additional interest for the three remaining candidates is the matter of how their respective list members are being mailed by certain other political sources and social media. The table below shows these overlaps for each candidate. Within each candidate’s column, the percentage given for each overlap is the percentage of that candidate’s list receiving mail from the overlap mailer. In general, each candidate’s overlaps show predictable associations with mailers of similar political stripe. Of particular note:

  • All three candidates maintain strong overlaps with Twitter, and not surprisingly, Trump most of all.
  • In comparison to Clinton’s, the Sanders list is much more heavily weighted to activist causes.
  • Clinton and Sanders have considerable list overlap with one another: 15% of Clinton’s list receives mail from Sanders. 27% of Sanders’ list receives email from Clinton. This overlap reflects the 1.4 million people that these two candidates’ lists have in common.

Of course, we’re nowhere near done with this subject. There are miles to go before we sleep.