Supporters of the Democratic Party have seen a lot of panic, doom, and gloom pop up in their inboxes over the past several months. The tone of the fundraising emails from the Democratic Congressional Campaigns Committee, a mailing list that seemingly everyone who has ever talked to someone who has ever voted for a Democrat appears to be on regardless of how many times they click “unsubscribe,” is pretty mopey. Headlines like “all hope is lost,” “DOOMED,” “TRAGIC conclusion,” “heart-wrenching setback,” “throw in the towel,” “MAJOR defeat,” and “DEVASTATING news” pop up with regularity (all of those were from the past six weeks).
If you open the window, though, most likely the birds are chirping and the sun is shining. And if you click the email, you’ll understand the disconnect: The “all hope is lost” email reads “If we get blown out on tomorrow’s midyear deadline–the most important of the election–we might as well give up hope until 2016.” That’s something that insider-y wonks who determine campaigns based on fundraising numbers might be moved by, but it sure sounds more urgent when it screams “all hope is lost” up front.
The creators of the “Emails From The DCCC” Tumblr, which started posting last week, clearly understand the type of marketing the committee uses when attempting to raise money from nervous Democrats–personal appeals, great urgency, and a call to action that claims the stakes are as high as humanly possible. The blog creates fake DCCC fundraising emails that are so close to the real thing, there’s probably some staffer in an office in D.C. somewhere wondering, “Could we pull off ‘Your entire family is in the hospital’ as a headline?”
The formula, with a hyperbolic headline that demands immediate action, followed by some backtracking that contextualizes that hyperbole, is easy to replicate: “When you think about it, isn’t America just one big family? Well, that family is on life support right now, because of the Republicans,” before the call-to-action demands campaign cash to keep the nightmare scenario in the headline from coming to pass.
Apparently this sort of fundraising appeal works, because the DCCC has been at it for a while. Which probably means that whoever is behind the Tumblr has an “ask” box full of questions from the party offering him or her a job.