Political spam: A Few Stats
I’m not enamored with political senders. As a group, they tend to have a sense of entitlement to engage in poor practices. So, they buy, sell, rent, and trade lists. Today’s post is a case study in the last presidential election.
I gave tagged addresses to the Trump, Warren, Sanders, and Clinton campaigns. In each case, the address is obviously associated with the campaign and was never used for any other purpose. The domain used has been in my exclusive control since 2008.
Trump & Warren
First, the best news that I have is actually from the Trump and Warren campaigns. The Trump campaign received an address later than the others, but they also mailed the very least. Over the course of 232 days, I received a total of 21 messages with the final message arriving in February of 2017. The address was never shared. Similarly, the Warren campaign sent 168 messages over 939 days (final message was in November of 2017) with all messages coming from her domain (so, again, no sharing). Both campaigns sent fewer than 1 message per day.
The Sanders campaign did some VERY limited sharing. Over the course of 524 days ending on January 1, 2018, I received 48 emails from berniesanders.com (an average of 0.09 per day). Of course, I asked for those 48 messages. But, in addition to that, the address was shared with Our Revolution, a Political Action Committee that the campaign setup when Bernie quit running. Over the course of 488 days (also ending on January 1, 2018), my tagged address has received 162 messages. Additionally, the address was shared with “The Sanders Institute” which is run by Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders, Bernie’s wife. The Sanders Institute has emailed the address 13 times over 186 days (ending on December 29, 2017) for an average of 0.07 messages per day.
Now, a word about this bit of “affinity group sharing”: Of everything that you’ll read in this post, this level sharing makes the most sense. When Sen. Sanders stopped campaigning, he gave his mailing list to the PAC that he setup to carry on his mission. I get that. But, there are two things which I also take into consideration at this point:
- On July 25, 2016, the Sanders campaign sent out a mailing requesting that people sign-up (ironically, this is the first email I have a record of receiving from the campaign):
When I didn’t do that, they transferred the address anyway.
- If Our Revolution is truly the successor to the campaign and therefore got its assets (such as its mailing list), then why continue to mail from berniesanders.com? Both groups sent messages to the same tagged address on January 1, 2018. It’s either his list or it’s Our Revolution’s list.
As for the Sanders Institute, I can’t find any real indication of Sen. Sanders’ involvement in the organization. So, at least as far as I can see, Sen. Sanders took his campaign’s mailing list and gave it to his wife’s political organization. It makes a lot of sense think that a married couple would share a lot of political ideas, and it certainly appears that there’s a lot of overlap between Sen. Sanders’ campaign platform and the Sanders Institute’s goals, that doesn’t really mean that permission just transfers as a matter of course.
Finally, let’s look at the Clinton campaign. It’s easily been the most active address that I’d given out. Over the course of 542 days ending on November 7, 2016, the tagged address received 788 messages. That’s an average of 1.45 messages per day. Now, as with the other campaigns, I actually asked for those messages, so there are no complaints there.
But, on September 10, 2016, the tagged address started getting mail for EMILY’s List. In the 487 days that have followed, there have been 571 messages received. That’s an average of 1.17 messages per day. Here lately, most days have seen two messages per day, but some days have seen more. January 4 had 3 messages, and December 31 finds an astonishing 5 messages.
Moving forward a bit more in time, we see the DNC get in on the fun. Over the course of 216 days (ending on January 8, 2018), the DNC sent 51 messages (for an average of 0.24 messages per day). The last in the group of shares is Onward Together. Over the course of 49 days (ending on January 5, 2018), they have sent the Clinton-tagged address 6 emails for an average of 0.12 per day.
Unlike with the affinity group sharing that happened with the Sanders campaign, there’s no obvious logic to these. The DNC didn’t take over the Sanders or Warren lists, so it’s not that the DNC just took over the lists of the major candidates. And, given the candidates in the 2016 election, I’m not sure that being a Clinton supporter necessarily equates to wanting to support all pro-choice, Democratic women.
I also feel the need to say something about the Marco Rubio campaign. Between April 13, 2015, and July 18, 2016, I got 16 messages (that’s an average of 0.03 messages per day) from Marco Rubio. And while I thought that I gave his campaign a tagged address, I had not. Instead, these messages went to a tagged address given to Michele Bachmann back in 2011. That address has been shared around so much that I’m kind of afraid to go try to figure out who all has sent to it. Hrm. Maybe that will be another blog post….
The thing is, though, this is all pretty “par for the course” when it comes to political senders. If you were to ask either of the ones who shared their lists with other groups, they would likely be astonished that things like permission (and whether or not permission is fungible) are even issues that should be considered. After all, there are important messages to disseminate and money to be raised.
And this only covers the political stuff that I can trace the origins of. I have an entire set of messages from Marco Rubio and others which were sent to a personal address.