Campaigns drown supporters with fundraising e-mails in the race for cash

August 5, 2012

By Dan Eggen, The Washington Post

Larisa Thomason is a diehard liberal in a deep-red state, running a feisty Alabama political blog and donating thousands of dollars over the years to President Obama and other Democrats.

But two weeks ago, after opening yet another desperate fundraising e-mail from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Thomason decided she’d had enough: She clicked “unsubscribe.”

“It was a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and I thought, ‘Good heavens, I already got two e-mails from him today,’ ” said Thomason, political editor of the “Left In Alabama” Web site. “You have to think it must work, and they’re just trying to break through all the noise. But it’s just too much to take after a while.”

Eager to gain advantage in a tight and expensive election year, political campaigns are drowning their most ardent supporters in a deluge of messages begging for cash. The pleas from Obama, Republican challenger Mitt Romney and a host of other political figures are at turns cajoling, intimate and sometimes downright panicked — all aimed at squeezing another $3 or $300 out of loyal donors.

“Nightmare,” read the subject line to one missive sent last weekend by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, warning that Obama could lose. “If we don’t fight back, it’ll be over long before November.”

The push for donations is easier than ever by the the ubiquity of e-mail, social media and texting services, all of which can be ruthlessly exploited for fundraising pitches. Both major presidential candidates are aggressively using such technology to shape their messages and operations, including new iPhone apps released last week aimed at getting supporters more involved in their campaigns.

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