God is on the side of the big battalions, or so I hear. Photo via the National Archives.
The announcement was essentially inevitable, but let’s still take note: Hillary Clinton can now tap the 20 million-odd supporter email addresses that President Obama’s 2012 campaign bequeathed to the DNC. I’m sure that quite a few of those potential donors, volunteers and voters are already on her own list, but many won’t be — and now she can hit them up directly for money and time.
Of course, many of those addresses will have gone dark over four years, and not everyone left on the list will leap lightly into Clinton’s corner. Plenty of them are Bernie Sanders supporters, for example, some of whom will either stay home or vote Green or Libertarian (or even Trump!) in the fall. As Jordan Fabian and Amie Parnes report in The Hill,
“The best email list is the one you build yourself,” one Clinton ally said. “But it doesn’t hurt. There’s data they can get from that, ways they can clean it up, there’s stuff that can help fill a void. The more resources that they piece together the better.”
As one small example, the Clinton campaign might use the list to aim Facebook advertising via a Custom Audience and Lookalike targeting — assuming that the DNC will let them, since the presumed Democratic nominee won’t actually take possession of the names and addresses themselves. Instead, the DNC will send emails on her behalf, many of them surely “from” Barack and Michelle Obama. This kind of “list rental” arrangement has the advantage of not harming the campaign’s email deliverability — I’m told that Marco Rubio’s delivery rates dropped noticeably after he bought Chris Christie’s list and started hitting it directly from his own accounts, for example.
This announcement comes shortly after Donald Trump’s campaign sent its first dedicated fundraising email, and as the political class was still buzzing about the dismal state of his campaign finances. Whether that kickoff message raised the $3 million he claims is an open question, but it’s clear that he’s likely left tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on the table by NOT tapping his supporters’ enthusiasm in any meaningful way before now. It’s not the first time his aversion to traditional campaigning has cost him an advantage, but it may be the most important. Email acquisition is trench warfare, rarely blitzkrieg.
If God is on the side of the big battalions (and the big bank balances), Hillary Clinton now leads Donald Trump on all digital fronts. If he wants to win, he’d better look up from his Twitter account and start running a real campaign.