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A taxonomy of year-end campaign fundraising pitches

Understanding the permutations of pitches to Minnesota political donors as the end of 2021 approached.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Political campaigns love deadlines — because they know donors (and political watchers) love deadlines.

So they use them to raise money, often begging supporters to help them meet a pending deadline, even when there is no deadline. Sometimes it’s the end of a month or the end of the quarter or something the campaign finance staff just made up.

Often the pitch is to help the campaign show strength; that if it doesn’t raise enough money, opponents — and the media — will consider them weak. Take a recent message from Gov. Tim Walz’s campaign finance director about fundraising numbers for Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan: “If they come up short, they’ll look vulnerable, which means more national Republican money headed to our state earlier than anyone anticipated.”

But last week, there actually was a real fundraising deadline. Sort of. State campaigns are required to report by Jan. 31 how much they raised in 2021, all the way up to midnight New Year’s Eve. 

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And because such filings are rare in non-election years, there will be a fair amount of attention paid to those numbers (even if a dollar raised on Dec. 31 and a dollar raised on Jan. 1 spend the same). 

As a result, anyone on the mailing list of pretty much any party, campaign or candidate got a lot of pitches during the last days, hours and minutes of 2021, many hitting on variations of similar themes. Here’s is a sampling of the subject lines that appeared in in-boxes across the state as the end of year approached, grouped by our own highly scientific, chill-to-frantic classification system:

The appreciative nod: 

“Overwhelmed with gratitude” (Gov. Tim Walz)

“What a year!” (Minnesota Sen. Paul Gazelka)

The friendly reminder: 

“Hi, checking in before tonight” (Walz)

“Checking in re: Friday” (Walz)

“A moment of your time, friend” (U.S. Sen. Tina Smith)

“Time-sensitive request” (DFL Party)

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The calendar admonition: 

“2022 is DAYS AWAY” (former President Donald Trump)

“Critical FEC-mandated End-of-Year goal” (Trump)

“Our MAJOR FEC deadline is coming up” (Trump)

“Our FINAL deadline of the year” (Trump)

“JUST HOURS TO GO” (U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach)

“Last minute ask before the new year” (Minnesota Sen. Karin Housley)

“Before the ball drops” (U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar)

“Before we head into the New Year” ( Smith)

“I am writing to respectfully ask if you can contribute $10 before our midnight fundraising drive comes to an end?” (U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly for Smith)

The imagine-the-alternative warning: 

“Do you want a NEW Secretary of State?” (GOP Secretary of State candidate Kim Crockett)

“This work has never been more important” (Secretary of State Steve Simon)

“We can’t lose momentum” (Smith)

 “Fighting for America’s future” (Fischbach)

“I’m resolved to fight for the American people” (Klobuchar)

“Our biggest test yet” (Walz)

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The disappointed parent: 

“Why didn’t you accept?” (Trump)

“I’m counting on your grassroots support” (Smith)

“Did you see my email?” ( Trump)

“This is a big problem, team” (Klobuchar)

“The truth is…” (Smith)

“I’m personally asking” (Smith)

“Bad news, team” (DFL)

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