Before and after TV debates, presidential candidates receive a very large number of donations. Photo: REUTERS
What are the chances that people will open their wallets? If you ask them politely or if you beg them insultingly and appeal to their guilty conscience?
In this respect, too, the 2020 US election campaign is a million-fold practical test. Donald Trump and Joe Biden differ significantly in the pitch and style of their fundraising efforts. As usual in appearance. One of them is an offensive bully. The other is an understanding grandfather.
And also in the degree of success during the year. However, it can be a misconception to assume a causal relationship between the one and the other.
In October, Biden was awarded three times as much money as Trump
Trump has received $ 1.53 billion in donations since the start of the year, and Biden has received $ 1.51 billion. Trump had the greater success in the first half of the year, Biden since early September. In the first half of October, the Democrat ($ 130 million) raised three times as much money as the Republican ($ 43.5 million).
Donald Trump’s typical request for a donation, usually as a text message on his smartphone, is demanding. The mobile phone number has the campaign because it is the only way to sign up for a Trump election campaign and receive confirmation of participation.
Trump is flattering, Trump makes you feel guilty
The first text message is flattering: Are you looking forward to the event with President Trump today?
Moments later, the request for a donation comes under the heading “FOUR YEARS MORE”. Have you seen the previous email? Have you signed up for the early vote?
The next day, the text comes from one of Trump’s sons, Donald Junior or Eric. How was the meeting yesterday? My father is fighting for your future. Again the request for money.
The following text message sounds more annoying. My son wrote to you, and now I am writing to you AGAIN. We have not seen a receipt.
Regular salutation in the text message: “Patriot!”
It goes on like this every day. Often the salutation is: “Patriot!” Sometimes it goes further with incentives: Any amount you donate will raise President Trump 800% of the amount as a co-donation. Act now! Sometimes with flattery: “Where is our top supporter?” Or: “Do you want to become one of the 1% top donors?” Then a surprise arrives.
In between, other text messages make you feel guilty. Eric and Donald Junior asked about you. Are you abandoning us? “
Biden apologizes for asking for donations
It sounds a bit different with Joe Biden. “My question and request: can you contribute 5, 10 or 15 dollars?” Often the speech starts with an apology: “I know we ask a lot and often. But would you … “
Biden’s campaign also tries to empathize with the situation where the alleged follower receives the text message or email. “Among the many messages in the inbox, you should perhaps read this one today: we are just before the deadline for the donations in October. And if you don’t help, we run the risk of being defeated. “
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What are the final results? Joe Biden is now much more successful. He left Donald Trump far behind in terms of donations after the summer vacation. Between the start of the year and mid-October, 5.9 million Americans donated money for Biden, according to the Federal Election Commission. And 3.7 million citizens for Trump.
Evidence of enthusiasm: Those who donate, invest – and vote
The Washington Post sees a significant difference in enthusiasm that Biden is generating compared to Trump. In the US, donations are generally used as a measure of the level of support for a political candidate.
The purpose of fundraising is not just to raise money for expensive television and radio preserves. It also has a strong mobilization effect. According to the American convention, everyone who donates money has invested in the candidate and his party. And it is all the more certain to assume that these people will then vote, so that their investment is not wasted.
There was no enthusiasm from Biden at the start of the year. At the time, it was not even clear who would become the Democratic presidential candidate. Biden aroused little enthusiasm. The main argument for him was “eligibility”. He was eligible. He was trusted to beat Trump for being a nationally known name and at the same time a moderate politician who caused no fear of a shift to the left among barter voters.
In Pennsylvania, Biden has twice as many donors as Trump
In terms of donations, Biden was behind Trump until late summer. In July, donors in 36 of the 50 states gave more money to Trump. In September the situation had changed. Now Biden was ahead of Trump in 41 of the 50 states.
In Pennsylvania, one of the most competitive swing states, for example, Biden tripled the number of donors from July (37,000) to September (91,200). The number of Trump donors grew moderately there from 39,000 to 43,600.
Trump’s best fundraising days were his birthday on June 14 and the national holiday on July 4. For Biden, September was the record month when he raised more donations in a month than any other presidential candidate. Three events converged: the death of Liberal Constitutional Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg including the dispute over her successor, the first televised debate against Trump, and the deadline for counting the respective donations in the third quarter.
From an expert’s point of view, the difference in success is not primarily due to the tone of the begging text messages and emails. That can also play a role. Biden’s lead reflects the general trend of recent weeks: Biden is leading the polls. And the ability to vote Trump out – “Dump Trump!” – is a more powerful message and motivation for many voters than the call for a second term for Trump, “Four more years.”