Archive for May 7th, 2008

By now, it should be clear to most campaign organizers, media pundits and voters that politics and the Internet live in loving disharmony.  The Internet is both the most lethal medium to a campaign (gossip, candid cameras, endless gaffe replays) and the the most efficient marketing message machine. 

In this post I take a quick look at the email campaigns of the major candidates.  Actually, I’m only going to go so far as to compare From names, Subject lines, send times and quantity.  Anyone who’s ever done significant email campaigns knows those are the KEY elements to get right… if you blow those the message never gets to the inbox or the user never opens it.

For this informal study I only look at email from 2/1/2008 through 5/6/2008.  I’ve posted email inbox snapshops below for the three main candidates.

Who’s using email most effectively?

What are the strategies?

Does it work at all?

Are these sales pitches for votes or catalysts to involvement?

Emails Sent:

  • McCain: 39 or about 3.1 per week
  • Obama: 70 or about 5.8 per week
  • Clinton: 66 or about 5.5 per week

Number of Unique Senders:

  • McCain: 7
  • Obama: 11
  • Clinton:9

Subject Line Style:

  • McCain: Key marketing messages, Issues, Patriotism
  • Obama: Campaign results, calls to action
  • Clinton: Campaign results, emotional statements

Frequency and Dayparting:

  • McCain: 50% lunchtime/late morning, 45% late afternoon primetime, 5% other; 1 weekend email, all others weekday
  • Obama: 5% early morning, 15% lunchtime, 40% primetime, 40% latenight (very close to campaign results announcements)
  • Clinton: 30% lunchtime, 40% late night, 30% other; 80% weekday, 20% weekend


Hard to tell without some real data from the campaigns.  We do know anecdotally that the Obama campaign raises a tremendous amount of money through the internet and has over 1.5 million individual micro donors.  The Clinton campaign has not raised nearly as much overall nor over the internet.

Their respective websites follow the same traffic trends and do not show much correlation with the email campaigns that wouldn’t also be correlated to general interest in the campaigns at that time.


Obama has a much larger web audience – for a variety of reasons.  Whether that has any bearing on the outcome of the campaign, who knows.  and whether it’s a cause or a result or an intervening variable, we’re unlikely to know without a much better view of the data than you can get publicly.


Who do you think is using email the best and why?  What’s your experience?

Obama Campaign:

Obama Email Campaigns


Clinton Email Campaigns


Email Inbox of McCain Campaign Emails



NOTE: Michael Jung compiled these screenshots and went through the painful process of subscribing to everyone’s emails, even the candidates we don’t remember.  What he wanted me to remind everyone, “And don’t forget to tell everyone to go visit http://www.nowcali.com!”

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