The Washington Post

For political fundraising e-mails, ‘Hey’ is out. :D is in.


There are probably a few people out in the wild, yet to be found for the oral history that will be written 20 years from now on the last presidential election, who consumed the 2012 race solely on Gmail. For them, a simple "hey," painstakingly typed, probably exemplifies that year more than being "fired up" or whether you did or did not "build that."

A Bloomberg Businessweek story after the election detailed the Obama campaign's online fundraising efforts, and the subject lines they spent hours crafting to make sure you accidentally clicked on them. The story's summary read, "The bottom line: Obama’s e-mail fundraising team tested hundreds of grabby subject lines. The most successful—“Hey”— brought in millions of dollars."

However, as Yahoo News' Garance Franke-Ruta showed in a screenshot on Twitter on Wednesday morning, it seems that campaigns are starting to doubt the efficacy of words — or word — in their attempts to raise money.

It was probably inevitable that the Democratic National Committee would start using emoji.

Why all the emoji? "The age when people sat down at a desktop computer a couple times a day to check their email is over," writes Matt Compton, the DNC's digital director, in an e-mail. "We’re living in a world where people are constantly plugged into their mobile devices. We want to talk to our supporters where they are — and we want to make sure we’re getting their attention when we need it. Sometimes, that means we need to get creative with an emoji or two." The DNC did not comment on how the emoji e-mails are performing.

If anything, it's surprising how long it took to catch on. Political campaigns love Internet trends.

Source: Barack Obama's MySpace page
Source: Barack Obama's MySpace page

If the DNC had been paying attention, they would have realized that we had passed the age of spicing up conversation with emoji. No, you must ONLY use emoji. The Library of Congress acquired an emoji translation of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" last year. If it had come out while the author was alive, maybe he wouldn't have needed to wait until after death for his fame.

WNYC interviewed a couple last week who texted only in emoji for an entire month. The radio station's conclusion? "Emoji-only texting seems to morph from a guinea pig gimmick into a profound lesson in what is often missing from the written word: nuanced emotion."

If candidates and campaign committees truly want to connect with voters, we challenge them to begin sending e-mails in nothing but emoji. It's the future. We read it in the New York Times Style section:

Source: The New York Times

If not by the end of this cycle, it will surely happen by 2016. Here are some ideas for the possible presidential contenders' fundraising e-mail subject lines — as well as a peek at what could have been if previous presidential candidates had been blessed with emoji. Or e-mail.


Barack Obama

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 3.05.16 PM


Translation: Hey.

Chris Christie

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 2.57.03 PM


Translation: This doesn't translate well into English. It is basically just Bruce Springsteen lyrics surrounded by appeals for donations.


Ted Cruz

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 2.58.06 PM


Translation: This is a quote from his filibuster during the government shutdown: “The moon might be as intimidating as Obamacare.” What better way to remind your supporters of your efforts to stand up to the federal government than translating your greatest speech into emoji!?


Rick Perry

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 2.59.17 PM



Translation: I have cool glasses.


Hillary Clinton: TBD

Translation: We don't know what will be here, but we assume Clinton's massive fundraising and Internet teams will, if she decides to run, have moved onto whatever new language comes after emoji. We have a feeling this will involve Uber and sandwiches.


Rand Paul

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 2.59.58 PM


Translation: This is Rand Paul's position on government surveillance.


Marco Rubio

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 3.00.39 PM


Translation: I'm thirsty ... for your donations!



Joe Biden

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 3.02.15 PM


Translation: I will do this dance if you donate to my campaign. Actually, I'm just going to do it anyway.


Abe Lincoln

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 3.02.44 PM


Translation: "A house divided cannot stand."


Elizabeth Warren

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 3.03.25 PM


Translation: This is Elizabeth Warren's platform.


George W. Bush

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 3.04.04 PM


Translation: I am a very, very, very, very, very, very, very compassionate conservative. But you already knew that.


Mitt Romney

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 3.04.37 PM


Translation: Wow, all these trees are exactly the right height!


Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.



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