Direct Mail and Democrats Don’t Mix


Re my reply to Dave Johnson, Josh Marshall wonders why direct mail doesn’t work for the Dems.

Democrats have always lamented how Republicans just have far better direct-mail lists than they do, and how the Republicans are just plain better at it. And they do have better lists and they are better at it. But I’ve always thought that it wouldn’t really matter all that much if the Democrats had high quality lists too. The truth is that direct-mail, for whatever reason, just works with folks who are apt to give money to Republican campaigns. And it just doesn’t with Dems, or at least not nearly as well. It’s a different demographic. For whatever social or cultural reasons, the technology or mechanism — in this case fundraising by mail — is just particularly well suited to one demographic and not to the other.

Atrios offers an explanation.

Josh Marshall raises an issue that he’s raised before – that perhaps Democrats have a comparative advantage in raising money over the internet, relative to direct mail due to the charcteristics of their supporters. I think he’s given his reasons for this in more detail previously, and to some extent I probably agree. But, aside from the medium of direct mail I’d argue that there’s something wrong with the message.I get a reasonable amount of political junk mail. Frankly, most of it goes into the trash unread these days. But, to the extent that I do read it I have the impression that it reads something like this:

REPUBLICANS ARE GOING TO EAT YOUR BABIES UNLESS YOU GIVE US $25

There’s a kind of “we’re pathetic and can’t do anything unless you send us a couple of bucks” vibe. Now, that may in fact be true – that they’re at a financial disadvantage. But, look – nobody likes a loser.

I’d prefer direct mail which went something like:

Last week we took Tom DeLay out back and kicked the crap out of him. This week, we plan to do it again. Help support this ass-kicking! For only $25, your name can be on a bootprint on DeLay’s mottled ass!

Democrats are tired of being on the defensive. We’ve been on the defensive since the Failed Clinton Presidency began being reported 2 hours after election day ’92. It’s time for those days to be over.I think he’s got a point.

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