The Washington Post

Why aren’t more people donating to the Obama campaign?

The statistics are pretty grim.

Of the donors who had given $200 to the Obama campaign by this time in 2008, 87 percent have yet to contribute anything.

Why is this?

Some theorize that it is the dissipation of the Hope and Change Messiah aura that surrounded Barack Obama in 2008. When you make the main point of your campaign vague nouns into which people can read almost anything, it is fairly impossible to satisfy everyone. Even Abraham Lincoln couldn’t please all the people all the time, and he had a chin-beard. Others suggest that, in these rough economic times, nobody has $200.

But I think it’s simpler than that.

I blame the e-mails.

People who donated to Obama in 2008 wound up on an e-mail list. Not content with periodically updating donors on the campaign’s doings, the list seems dedicated entirely to sending the creepiest, most off-putting messages possible. Whoever writes these things seems to be going through a bad breakup with everyone on the list, and we will need a restraining order against him soon.

I wrote a few months back that these messages were weird, but as Julie Beck at the Hairpin notes, they’ve only gotten worse — moving into stalker territory.

A few examples:

●“Up late.”

●“I can’t wait to meet you.”

●“My best friend.”

●“What’s stopping you, Jillian?”

●“This has something to do with you.”

●“If I don’t call you.”

Here is a chart:

If someone carrying a cat approaches you and starts reading an Obama fundraising e-mail, tell him he’s overstretched the concept.

And the subject lines aren’t the only creepy part of the e-mails. “David,” begins one, “I’ve been in President Obama’s shoes before.” It’s signed Bill Clinton.

“Jillian,” says another. “I have some advice for the two people who will be selected to go to a party for the President at George Clooney’s house: Choose your guest wisely. Whoever you pick to join you is going to owe you big time.” Whoa, there. This is starting to sound like blackmail.

Look, if you want to keep the magic alive, the last thing you do is send a series of menacing e-mails. I can tell you that, and I haven’t even read “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.” When you are begging, “Think about it — and chip in $3 or whatever you can today to be automatically entered” for dinner with George Clooney, you can’t help sounding a little, well, desperate. And nothing turns people off like that faint whiff of desperation.

A better fundraising tactic might be “Hey, please donate, and I’ll unsubscribe you from this list.”

$200 seems like a small price to pay for that.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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