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May 04, 2005

E-mail Lists Ain't All They're Cracked Up To Be

Heh indeed.

Update: Sigh. Just can't leave it at that, can I? Vestigial e-mail lists aren't always an asset, in fact, I have a hunch they're a net negative. Many of the people on the list will no longer be interested in the candidate, and many of those who might, in some world, retain some sympathy for them will have so totally conditioned themselves to junk the e-mails that they're effectively empty inboxes by the time the next campaign rolls around. Those very same people, conversely, will open e-mails from new candidates because they're not used to trashing them on sight. So it seems to me that Kerry's e-mail list is going to be less effective per person and, because so many are already on it, harder to grow. Other candidates can build their lists and enjoy much higher rates of click-through and participation from much lower numbers of people.

May 4, 2005 in Web/Tech | Permalink


Typical. All they pay attention to is the numbers (3 million!) without looking into the substance of the claim.

Maybe someone should simply comission a poll of Kerry supporters to see if they think he should run again?

Posted by: Chris Andersen | May 4, 2005 2:29:41 PM

It's true, when I was worried that I might turn into a Republican, I signed up for RNC daily emails. Now I get Ken Mehlman's 100k graphic-intensive messages clogging up my inbox every morning, and it's turn me into a Democrat for life.

Posted by: Brad Plumer | May 4, 2005 3:58:32 PM

If he could filter the email list for those that signed up before the Iowa caucuses and after, then it would be useful. But not 3 million useful. Maybe 50,000 useful.

Posted by: Eric | May 4, 2005 4:06:08 PM

If Kerry were to gain some insight into how effective the Republican party mailing lists are, he'd donate his lists to the Democratic party and then most of your objections would go away and the real benefits of knowing who are your 'put up money' supporters are.

The Democratic party should stop trying to raise cash just for elections and just for a particular candidate. Party building and message delivering needs constant, not episodic work.

We need continuous sources of money to take our message to the people, bypassing the media which largely ignores or distorts our positions. A good place to start would be merging the Kerry, Edwards, Dean, DNC, DLC, DCCC, DSCC and other lists, thereby creating some equivalent vehicle to the RNC for communicating with the donating part of the Dem. party base.

Maybe the labor unions, conservatists, pro-choice, gay/lesbian, black, hispanic, asian, and other interest groups would choose (or be persuaded) to join this effort to rebuild an effective national party.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | May 4, 2005 4:06:27 PM

Damn, Brad P, is all that keeps you from the dark side a bulging AM inbox?


Posted by: JimPortlandOR | May 4, 2005 4:08:56 PM

People will tell you how much and how often they want party communications via email, if you give them a choice. All that is needed is an menu of options for list members (daily, weekly, monthly, special issues, opt-out, etc.) to them to select what they want.

The key is maintaining some level of contact, and knowing who to go to when either sustaining or special needs arise. Why should each candidate, for instance, have to invest money in building a special list. Why not just offer more subscription options that are candidate-oriented>|?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | May 4, 2005 4:15:33 PM

Jim -- he can't. Because of how the sign-up privacy guarantees were worded, he's actually barred from donating them. Whether that was just an oversight -- Bush and Dean were able to donate theirs -- or planned I don't know, but it'd be illegal for him to break the contract. Garance Franke-Ruta had a great article on this in the Prospect a few months back.

Posted by: Ezra | May 4, 2005 4:31:41 PM

Forget the legalities, it would be morally reprehensible to give the list to another party. When I sign up for email from a candidate, i do it to find out about him. That doesn't translate into automatic support for anything or anybody else.

Thank goodness he didn't have the same shitty policy Campus Progress does. They reserve the right to turn my blog comments into major motion pictures and not pay me a dime. Yes, it's silly to think they'd turn a blog post into a major motion picture, but if they aren't going to, why do they need the rights?

I actually talked to the people running the Kerry list, and I was thrilled that at least the techies were firmly on the side of privacy rights (almost as much as the Clark campaign techies were, but half of kerry's came from there.)

Posted by: bunny | May 4, 2005 5:12:31 PM

OK, I agree that previous privacy rights shouldn't be violated.

For the future, why not specify that joining a list or donating would mean an auto opt-in (with a opt-out available.

The key is building a permanent, financially viable national party.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | May 4, 2005 5:37:04 PM


Posted by: Jose Lopez | Sep 17, 2005 12:14:01 AM

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