The 2024 Presidential Primary kicked off on Joe Biden’s inauguration day. While the election is still years out, potential Republican primary candidates are busy building their digital infrastructure, fundraising, and voter contact programs.
Like many of you, I was curious as to what these potential candidates were up to. Are they sending emails now? What content are they sharing? How frequently are they communicating with subscribers? To find that out, I engaged in a review of the 2024 Republican presidential candidates’ email programs.
I went to the candidate’s websites to sign up to get their emails and texts. I opened every email in my Inbox and Spam, added a tag to trigger an automation into a Google Sheet via Zapier, and let the programs run their course for many months.
What did I find?
My latest, with email data beginning as far back as February 2021 through March 2022:
One central theme emerges from Josh Hawley’s word cloud: fundraising. Deadlines, monthly goals, and quarterly goals feature prominently in his email subject lines. The bulk of his emails come from him personally, and the program paints a picture of someone working to raise his profile and his campaign war chest.
Mike Pence – Advancing American Freedom*
Looking towards the future and casting a positive policy vision with AAF’s Freedom Agenda, Mike Pence is positioning himself as a serious, consensus conservative candidate — and the heir to the successful policies of the Trump/Pence administration.
Note the “heartbeat bill” and “supreme court” shoutouts in his word cloud. True to his long-standing personal brand, no other candidate has talked as much about pro-life issues and social conservative issues as Mike Pence.
Nikki Haley – Stand for America
Our most prolific sender on the list, Nikki Haley’s Stand for America PAC, sent twice the number of weekly emails as the #2 sender, Rand Paul. Not only that, her group used three times more unique sender names than any other candidate we watched.
It’s clear: She is hustling to build a movement and determine what sticks in this political environment. And if her word cloud is any indicator, the answer she has found for her supporters is “critical race theory.”
Rand Paul’s word cloud is as clear and bold as Rand himself. He’s absolutely hammering two of the issues that resonate the most with the conservative base: COVID politics and election integrity. As the second-most prolific weekly sender on this list, he’s highly active and message-disciplined in the way he approaches his email program.
The only governor on our list, it’s no surprise that Ron DeSantis is overwhelmingly talking about “Florida.” Between the “Lockdown Libs Tour” and the many references to the conservative rallying cry of “Let’s Go Brandon,” he’s leaning into the Trumpian cheekiness that plays so well with the GOP base.
Interested in reading more of our industry studies? Check out our 2019 study on how presidential contenders were using SMS, and our deep-dive into if republicans’ emails were suppressed in the 2018 elections.
Wondering how you should craft an email marketing program that keeps supporters engaged and drives action? Drop us a line; we’d love to chat about your email strategy.
Fine Print for the Nerds
Study particulars are below for those interested in how I went about conducting this semi-scientific study:
- Signed up for emails under email@example.com on each candidate or organization’s website with a Virginia zip code.
- The inbox I used is Gmail but managed through FrontApp.
- I opened every email but did not take any further actions such as signing petitions, donating, buying merch, etc.
- Once received, emails were tagged in Front, and through Zapier, added to a Google Sheet where I collected send date and time, sender name, sender email, subject line, and the first few paragraphs of email text.
- I created pivot tables in Google Sheets to examine, by project, email total, trends among send dates, and sender names. Then, using Google Marketplace’s Word Cloud add-on, I created word clouds for each program’s subject line and email content.
- For the word clouds, I removed my name (Madison, Maddie), as that was the top word for nearly every cloud due to the standard email salutation ‘personalization.’
- Our wonderful creative team compiled the data into beautiful infographics.
Note on Republicans included in this study: I signed up for email updates from Tom Cotton and Tim Scott (three times) on their respective websites and did not receive more than one welcome email from Tom Cotton. I tried signing up for Donald Trump’s Save America emails unsuccessfully, but eventually started receiving emails in March, so I will include a Save America email program overview in our update this summer.