Final Obama Campaign E-mails Berate, Blame Supporters

Depending on who you are, if you receive e-mail updates from the Obama-Biden campaign you may have gotten a few strident notes in your inbox over the last week. In making the closing pitch to supporters and potential donors, the President’s campaign has struck a negative tone attempting to shame supporters who haven’t done enough into doing more. “You’ve waited until the last minute here,” one e-mail dated November 2 fumes to a supporter who has not contributed enough money to Obama for America.

Noted for its versatile use of technology and micro-targeting, the Obama campaign blew its Republican opposition out of the water in part thanks to a massive technology edge in 2008.The edge is hardly as pronounced this time around, but the Obama campaign continues to send carefully scripted missives to segments of its vast e-mail list attempting to turn supporters into activists and donors.”Look — Barack and I need you,” an e-mail sent in Vice President Joe Biden’s name to a female recipient on October 27 reads. The fundraising plea says that a cash disadvantage can be overcome but “only if you step up and do your part.”

Ann Marie Habershaw, the COO for Obama for America, signed her name to another harsh message sent November 3. “According to our records associated with this email address, you haven’t chipped in to this campaign yet. So this is it, the very last call. If you care about the outcome of this election, now is the time to show it.” The e-mail repeatedly emphasizes how serious it is that the recipient starts contributing to the campaign. “Please hear me when I say this is serious, and the decisions we’re making are very concrete — and final.”

Political campaigns frequently make impassioned pleas to supporters for get-out-the-vote efforts and contributions in the final days and hours of a campaign. Accusing e-mail list subscribers of not caring about the outcome of the election because they’ve not contributed financially to the campaign may be a new level of guilt trip.


Striking a careful balance between optimism and urgency usually mark the final closing arguments of campaigns. The Obama campaign’s harsh tone and willingness to berate and blame supporters for the election outcome may reflect an increasing frustration at Obama headquarters. Whatever their internal polls and public polls are showing them the mood does not appear optimistic. The negativism is showing.


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