This year, though, there’s been an exception to this happy pattern. The days after the Nov. 3 election have been far from quiet, with President Trump’s campaign refusing to end as surely as the candidate himself has refused to acknowledge how it ended. There has been no aftermath for the campaign, since the campaign doesn’t consider the election concluded. It, following Trump’s lead, insists that there is still a fight to be fought, so it’s still making the same sorts of appeals that it did before Nov. 3.
We can quantify that. In the three weeks before Nov. 3, the Trump campaign sent out 365 emails, according to a database compiled by the Defending Democracy Together Institute. In the three weeks that followed, from Nov. 4 to Nov. 24, the campaign sent out 354. Amazingly, it sent out more emails in the week after the election than the week before.
The purported senders of those messages changed subtly during those two periods.
During each period, Trump himself was the most commonly identified sender, followed by a generic website-related address.
While 22 emails in the three weeks before the election came from the first lady, former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), none in the three weeks afterward did so. In the three weeks after, Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, sent a combined 11 emails after sending none in the three weeks before.
Vice President Pence was identified as the sender (sometimes alongside Trump) on nearly twice as many emails after the election as before. About as often, the emails that arrived in the three weeks after the election came from an entity specifically identified as seeking to defend the election results — an Orwellian identifier, given what the results showed.
Curious how this compares with the appeals from President-elect Joe Biden? In the four weeks before Election Day, his campaign sent out 163 emails. In the nearly four weeks since, it sent fewer than 30, again according to the Archive of Political Emails compiled by DDTI.
The rationale for the Trump requests is not mysterious. As has been noted, the focal point of the emails from the president’s campaign is that readers should make a contribution to help fight his loss. At the beginning, the money donated went not to legal challenges or recounts, but instead to retire campaign debt until a donor hit the federal contribution limit. Then money would go to the Republican Party. After this was publicly reported, the initial recipient was changed to a new political action committee formed by Trump.
In other words, the only thing that changed Nov. 3 was that the Trump campaign shifted its rationale for begging for money. Before Nov. 3, the spur was the need to win the election. After Nov. 3, the spur was to somehow not lose it. In each case, the money went to political committees.
The reason that campaign appeals tend to slow down after Election Day, of course, is that candidates understand that people aren’t going to be too excited to hand over cash to a campaign that’s over. For the low, low price of misleading supporters and reinforcing cynicism about the safety of American elections, the Trump campaign figured out a way to keep the tap open.
So they kept it open.