Lame GOP Fundraising Efforts

The Democrats' 2012 campaign playbook is no secret, but, based a sample of one -- the email and snail mail targeted at me -- the GOP establishment continues to fundraise like its 1999.

I am an officer in my local Republican City Committee, and the State GOP sends me regular news updates. I have given three donations to the Republican National Committee where I provide my email and check all the boxes asking for fundraising materials, but I have never received a single email from them. Yesterday I went to the RNC site and registered my email address again. Twenty minutes later I received a strange email from "Leader Eric Cantor" (Our Dear Leader?) at the National Republican Congressional Committee which begins, "Peter, there's [sic] only 3 more days to join the Conservative House Army, and unless you join now, you won't continue to receive updates from the field." This threat was repeated two more times in the short email: "You must sign up" and "we need you to sign up here if you want to continue to receive emails from us."

Memo to Mr. Cantor: I just signed up! Why are you threatening to cut me off from receiving what most people regard as Spam?

A similar experiment with the Democratic National Committee resulted in an instantaneous response thanking "me for my support" and directing me to the DNC on Facebook and Twitter.

The only fundraising appeal I received from the RNC last quarter came through the U.S. Mail in an oversized envelope. Don't you love having your contributions go to postage and printing? It contained a typical fundraising package from circa 1975: numerous sheets of paper, including a two-page letter from Reince Priebus, a return envelope and... wait for it... a "Members Only," "exclusive, limited edition 2013 lapel pin." Really, a lapel pin? I don't wear a suit, so I don't have lapels, and wearing a GOP button in Massachusetts wouldn't sway any Democrat to vote Republican. I wonder, where do women put a lapel pin if they're not wearing a suit? The package includes a "Lapel Pin Confirmation" where you are requested to check off a box indicating either, "My lapel pin arrived in good condition," or "My Lapel Pin was damaged in the mail. Please send a replacement." This is a transparent ruse to encourage a response, but how dumb do they think we are?

In the month of August I received four emails from Paul Ryan's Prosperity PAC, which never identifies itself as being affiliated with the Republican Party. These emails employ an idiotic ticking clock strategy straight out of late night infomercials: "Act before midnight tonight!"

Aug. 23: "In less than 8 days, we'll hit another important fundraising deadline."

Aug. 27: "We are just days away from an important fundraising deadline. Your support today will help us keep the majority in 2014. Can I count on you to help us reach our goal?"

Aug. 29: "Time is running out. In just 72 hours we'll hit an important fundraising deadline, and I can't stress enough how important it is that we reach our goal."

Nearly identical emails arrived as the end of June and July approached. This is pitiful stuff. Memo to Paul Ryan: no one outside the Beltway gives a damn about these fundraising deadlines, and you're not even offering steak knives.

The meager political content in Paul Ryan's emails can be cringe-making:

[W]e need to work together to do health-care reform right. We need to fix what's broken... If we let Nancy Pelosi back in the speaker's chair, we'll see more of the partisan politics that got us into this mess.

In my opinion, Ryan has it backwards; what got us into this mess is too little partisan politics on the Republican side of the aisle. Democrats are fiercely partisan, and establishment Republicans respond by trying to "work together." As Rush asked recently, "Why let Democrats set the premise?...Why do we have to accept their claim that the health care system's broken?"

Now for the Democrats:

Several years ago I signed up for a White House newsletter, and I now get on average two or three emails every day from various Democrat organizations. That's over 60 emails a month, compared to 4 from the GOP. In the last three days I have received email from "Stop the GOP" (DSCC); "Democratic Victory" (DSCC); "Jon Carson," (Organizing for Action); "Julie Ager, DSCC Rapid Response"; "Matt Kehres, DSCC"; "The White House"; "Valerie Jarrett, The White House"; "Emily Ruiz," (OFA), "Debbie Wasserman Shultz," the "DemocraticParty" (DNC). This constant shuffling of Sender names makes it harder for Spam filters and more likely that I'll open the email.

Yesterday the tally was three:

One email was from "The White House," titled, "President Obama's Decision on Syria" which is amusing since it reported that Obama decided not to decide. The email is brief and avoids partisan attack, using the office of the President to portray our noble Commander-in-Chief touching base with the citizenry.

The other two emails were from the DSCC, and are variations on an email attacking Sen. Mitch McConnell used repeatedly in the last months. The DSCC is following Alinsky's Rule 12: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." ... Go after people and not institutions." The DSCC posts an unflattering photo of Sen. McConnell and attacks him mercilessly, accusing him of "character assassination" and "fir[ing] off over $1 million in cruel, atrocious attack ads," of being "hated," an "obstructionist," "the nation's most destructive Senator," and on and on.I love it when attack ads accuse their enemy of running attack ads.

Paul Ryan's emails on the other hand consistently refer to "keep[ing] the majority in the House" -- an impersonal institution and a vague goal.

The DSCC emails use visceral language like "tearing the GOP to shreds," and cite the requisite boogeymen:

That's why Karl Rove's people ... pledged to "set spending records" to re-elect McConnell. And the Koch brothers could launch a surge at any moment: they just brought in Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor to rake in ridiculous amounts of cash at a massive mega-donor summit.

The theme is clear: $5 donations from the little guys can defeat Republican fat cat "mega-donors." On the DNC home page: "The GOP's got special interests and Wall Street." Meanwhile, the GOP sends out a clubby "Members Only" letter that reinforces the stereotype of the elitist Republican.

The DSCC emails asks for $5, which will be triple-matched, resulting in a gift of $20. No matching funds are offered by the GOP.

At the bottom of the DSCC email there's a big red "Contribute" button, something the GOP emails lack.

I find the Democrat's tactics distasteful, filled with distortions, invoking primitive emotions like hate, revenge, class envy and the War on Women (DNC: "GOP Renews Assault on Women"). The Democrats are street fighters, but at least they're willing to fight for their wrong-headed ideology. The GOP doesn't have to fight dirty; they can pound Obama's horrible record without making stuff up, and rather than bureaucratic paperwork deadlines, they could invoke conservative ideals that stir the blood and open the checkbook.