1948: Campaign Fundraising Emails

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 23:44, 29 January 2018 by PvOberstein (talk | contribs) (Explanation: Hanks is generally a popular and uncontroversial figure,{{Citation needed}} making him an unusual target for attack ads.)
Jump to: navigation, search
Campaign Fundraising Emails
The establishment doesn't take us seriously. You know who else they didn't take seriously? Hitler. I'll be like him, but a GOOD guy instead of...
Title text: The establishment doesn't take us seriously. You know who else they didn't take seriously? Hitler. I'll be like him, but a GOOD guy instead of...


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Many politicians and organizations in the United States have taken to using aggressive fundraising campaigns by email to seek campaign contributions.

This comic shows a caricature of many people's email inboxes right now. Signing a petition or expressing interest in a cause can lead to being added to a myriad of mailing lists for similar groups, all looking for support. However, the emails get more and more absurd as the list goes on. For example, the last one combines a request for campaign contributions with the infamous Nigerian Prince phishing scheme.

DONATE NOW is the classic formula, and might be a real example. It is always "crunch time" during a campaign (at least between filing for candidacy and election day), and campaigns are always "low" on cash relative to the unlimited funding they would prefer. The ends of financial reporting periods, often at midnight, are conflated with "deadlines" of significant consequence. Further, the donation requested is less about the actual money - even if $5 each from several thousand voters can add up - but to get a donor to have their money placed on a candidate, making it more likely that donor will vote for the candidate (via encouraging the "sunk cost" fallacy).

DONATE $35.57 NOW! has the email begin to explain how they've tried to get as much money from supporters as possible - while fundraisers will try and work out how to gain money as possible, they would never explain this to their supporters. Such a precise number is also unlikely.

HELP and WE'RE BROKE are honest about the campaign's incompetence, but are not likely to get much sympathy except from those already sympathetic to the candidate. Any campaign reduced to this level has probably already lost, though.

WASHINGTON IS BROKEN may be another real example. This appeal to emotion promises specific action that is unlikely to accomplish much, and is honestly probably unlikely to happen even if the candidate wins, while suggesting the candidate vaguely cares about issues of importance to most voters, as measured by the polls.

HOPELESS may refer to the videogame Fable 3 where the player needed to generate funds to protect the land from the Darkness.

ARE YOU FAMILIAR compares a political opponent's plan to the works of Hieronymus Bosch, which are famous for depictions of Hell and Limbo as brutal places of highly imaginative torments.

OUTRAGEOUS. When a politician makes an offensive comment, it's common for the politician's opponents to send out fundraising emails pointing out the politician's offensiveness as a reason to give money to an opponent. Here, the sender's reaction and e-mail fundraising effort appears to be unusually delayed, as it refers to an alleged comment by Gerald Ford, whose term as President of the United States ended in 1977 and who died in 2006.

WHOOPS. The email apologies for running months of attack ads against American actor Tom Hanks. Hanks is generally a popular and uncontroversial figure,[citation needed] making him an unusual target for attack ads.

THEY SAY WE CAN'T WIN may refer to Roy Moore's attempts to overturn his loss in the December 2017 election for one of Alabama's US Senate seats, which came about a month before this comic and made national headlines. After the initial election count had him losing, he demanded a recount. That initial count said he had lost by a large enough margin that Alabama law required him to pay up front for a recount, and his campaign did not have enough funds available.

OUR CAMPAIGN'S ONLY CHANCE. This e-mail alludes to ActBlue, a political action committee that collects donations online for Democratic candidates. In reality, there is no Actblue family nor any "Jennifer Actblue" who is the heir to its fortune; the name ActBlue comes from the words "act" and "blue", referring to the color currently associated with the Democratic Party.

DOOM This is an excerpt from Tolkien's poem Lament of the Rohirrim, appearing in The Two Towers:
Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?

WARMEST GREETINGS The opening line is designed to sound like spam for an Advance-fee scam. These scams typically involve impersonating someone rich, often a Nigerian prince, who claims to be in trouble and promises to share a large sum of money if the victim helps him by sending a small fee in advance electronically. However, the second sentence of this email switches to sounding like a political fundraising email instead of an outright scam. This is either to establish a degrading comparison between flagrant scams and fundraising emails, or just to create a bait-and-switch joke.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.

Donate now. It's crunch time, and we're low on cash. If you chip in just $5 by midnight, we...
Donate $35.57 now! Our data team has determined that we should ask you for $35.57 to optimize the...
Help. Our campaign made some mistakes and we need a lot of money ASAP. Any kind, but cash is...
Washington is broken. When I win, I'll look those other senators in the eye and tell them: "Jobs." Then I...
Hopeless. It's bad. Really bad. If you don't chip in now, the darkness spreading across the land will...
As the first woman to fly a fighter jet through our state's formerly all-male university, I learned...
We're broke. No paid staff. No ads. And the cafe has told us to stop using their wifi to send fundraising...
When Amy decided to run for Congress, I was like "Huh?" but I checked Wikipedia, and apparently it's a branch of...
Are you familiar with the dutch painter Hieronymous Bosch? His work illustrates my opponent's plan for...
Being a single mom running a small business while going to law school while being deployed to Iraq taught me...
I will lead the fight against the big banks, special interests, the Earth's climate, and our children. I...
Wow. Have you seen this video of the squirrel obstacle course? Incredible! Anyway, I'm running because I...
Outrageous. Granted, this was a few years ago, but did you hear what President Ford said about...
Whoops. Due to a typo, we spent months running attack ads against Tom Hanks. Now, we need to make up for...
They say we can't win- that we're "underdogs" with "no money" who "lost the election last week." But they don't...
Our campaign's only chance is to seduce Jennifer Actblue, heir to the Actblue fortune. For that, we need a fancy...
Doom. Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed, like rain on...
Warmest greetings. I am the crown prince of Nigeria. I am running for Congress because I believe that...

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


can someone make a table with all the emails and an explanation column? I'm shit at formatting. DPS2004'); DROP TABLE users;-- (talk) 16:38, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

Relevant username? 17:42, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
Actually more based on Exploits of a mom DPS2004'); DROP TABLE users;-- (talk) 15:05, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

ActBlue is a political action committee aimed at helping people on the internet raise money for the Democratic party - there is no Jennifer ActBlue Heir to the ActBlue fortune. 17:14, 29 January 2018 (UTC)Daniel Macintyre

That's what Jennifer wants you to think. 17:23, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

It's interesting to note that for three of the emails, the subject isn't bolded, indicating that those emails were read. All three refer to female candidates JamesCurran (talk) 17:20, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

Are we sure those are subject lines? I don't usually write or get emails where the subject line flows seamlessly into the contents like this. (Not sure what else they could be, of course.) Also, the lack of bold text could indicate an email without a subject line. 18:54, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
I had actually initially taken the bold text as having being tweaked to emphasize those words, or that they were bold in the email, and that the emails which didn't were actual interesting and legitimate messages. :) Of course that would leave these emails without subjects, so the bold text being subjects makes more sense, and the lack of bold is just without a subject. As for part of the email starting after the subject, I think I've seen that. I know different email providers and programs show things differently. I have my email setup to only show subjects when I'm in my Inbox like this, but I've also seen ones where there's a couple of lines of preview. Perhaps Randall just has his to show only 1 line of subject and preview. If I cared about having a preview in my Inbox I'd set it that way, to save space. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:20, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
The default Gmail inbox view looks more or less like this - albeit there's a dash separating subject and body, and if there's no subject it displays "(no subject)". 17:08, 31 January 2018 (UTC)

I'm guessing the $35.57 may have been related to a recent Jimquisition episode focusing on this ad: https://youtu.be/Tu3rwf27VRE Odysseus654 (talk) 21:13, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

Some of these scenarios are especially hilarious to me!

1) When Amy decided to run for Congress, I was like "Huh?" but I checked Wikipedia, and apparently it's a branch of...
Who needs to know anything when we have Wikipedia?
2) I will lead the fight against the big banks, special interests, the Earth's climate, and our children. I...
Won't someone please think of the children? (Those little !#$!%#^$^s!) [Edited slightly, because they are really horrid when they have at-signs in their expletives.]
3) Whoops. Due to a typo, we spent months running attack ads against Tom Hanks. Now, we need to make up for...
Yay, automation!
4) Our campaign's only chance is to seduce Jennifer Actblue, heir to the Actblue fortune. For that, we need a fancy...
That is just what we need: a candidate with a fresh approach. Will he get slapped? 21:30, 29 January 2018 (UTC) Gene Wirchenko [email protected]

The wiki screwed up your nice legible formatting, LOL! Looks great in the edit box, a little confusing once submitted (I've noticed the wiki ignores a single New Line, unless followed by a colon) NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:20, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
I have just repaired the formatting. The wiki had also interpreted my faux expletive as an E-mail address (and protected it). Mr. Munroe needs to do a strip on how computers "help" us like this. 06:23, 30 January 2018 (UTC) Gene Wirchenko [email protected]

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the wording of the message starting "Hopeless" is deliberately written in the style of Donald Trump's tweets? 02:01, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Right now there's a double Incomplete message, with one asking for contact information in case someone wants to actually donate to one of these campaigns... Is it just me, or does this in fact NOT IDENTIFY ANYBODY? As in, there's nobody to donate TO! NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:20, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Note that the "Doom" email says "Where is the horse and the rider" not "Where now the horse and the rider," and also skips several lines in the middle of the poem. It's quoting the Peter Jackson movie, not the book. 05:43, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

It looks like you're correct (as indicated on the linked TolkienGateway page). I do wonder what the sender's address was supposed to be, though. Perhaps [email protected]? ;-) --IByte (talk) 10:30, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
And the beginning of Tolkien's ubi sunt, and the first question of Doom are both translations of the Wanderer 'Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago?' --User:Richardelguru

I know what Ford's controversial comment was: it was characterised by The New York Times as "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD". 07:09, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

The comment about the establishment not taking Hitler seriously might be referring to that "the powers that be" in pre-Nazi Germany thought they could control Hitler and use his popularity to their advantage. We all know how this plan worked out. --LordHorst (talk) 10:16, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Having read it before, I still laughed more at the linked "Bushism" Wikipedia page than at today's comic. 12:29, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Having that my college does some fund-raising events, I have seen some of the mails like this being displayed on my lecturer's laptop, so I find it relatable.Boeing-787lover 13:24, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

I'm trying to figure out what the typo was in the Tom Hanks attack ads. Perhaps they attacked Big Hanks instead of Big Banks? -- 17:50, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Or perhaps the opponent's real name was Tim Hanks, or Tom Henks, or something else similar? -- 22:10, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

The "They say we can't win ..." email may also be a reference to this SNL campaign ad parody with Will Ferrell and Chris Parnell, which takes the opposite approach ... Ferrell has already won the election, but insists on continuing to hound his opponent about the questions he'd raised in his attack ad, continuing the sarcastic use of quotes ("He says the election is 'over' and that he 'lost'") often seen in real attack ads and the parody here. Daniel Case (talk) 23:12, 6 February 2018 (UTC)

I think it's more of a third-party kind of thing - "They [the pundits, the two main parties, etc.] say we can't win, but we'll prove them wrong yada yada". And then it turns out they already lost. 22:23, 27 February 2018 (UTC)