Ossoff and Clickbait Fundraising Strategy

Jen Lunsford
Jun 22, 2017 · 3 min read

It seems like Jon Ossoff was running for election in Georgia’s 6th District for eons. While the outcome was disappointing, the election itself was a helpful exercise for young, newcomer progressives hoping to throw their hat in the ring for 2018. Ossoff was touted as the poster boy for the new generation of politician — The millennial grassroots guru raising millions $5 to $10 at a time.

Like many of you, I donated to Ossoff. I wanted to support a young, energetic democrat in a traditionally republican district to show the country that the democrats came to play.

And I was excited when Ossoff nearly won the election outright, falling just short of the threshold and triggering yesterday’s run off. So I gave again. And again. I made my donations recurrent. And the emails kept coming, each more dire than the last.

In the weeks leading up to election day I was receiving 8 emails or more a day from Ossoff, each with click-bait style subject lines like “EMBARRASSING Mistake” or “Jennifer- we’re PANICKING.” Some simply read “all hope is lost” or “Accept defeat.”

I understand click-bait marketing and the idea that you just want me to open the email, but what does this kind of tactic say about the candidate himself?

“Panic” is a bad look for a congressman. So is “accepting defeat.” What’s worse are emails like the one I received on June 17th that read “[Georgia] 4X-MATCH will be CANCELLED.” Confused as to how an offer for quadruple matching a donation could be cancelled after I made my donation, I clicked on the email only to discover that they were telling me the match was expiring that night. It was this email that prompted me to write this piece. That subject line is a lie. It is a fear-mongering, click-bait lie. That sort of thing is ok when you are trying to sell me diet pills or male enhancement products. It is not ok when you are trying to get me to support you for an elected position.

There is already too much dishonesty and mistrust in politics. If you are going to use these tactics in a fundraising email how am I supposed to trust what you say when you are representing me in Congress?

If your response to adversity is panic and losing hope, why should I trust you to make the right decision in a time of national crisis? This isn’t just about image. This is about trust and honesty and integrity. Not just in Mr. Ossoff personally, but in our entire political system.

I am a dyed-in-the-wool democrat who gave money to a candidate that doesn’t even live in my state during an off-cycle election. If these tactics turned off someone like me, how did it play with everyday Americans in his district? How will this kind of tactic play nationally in future elections? Now, I do not mean to imply that Ossoff lost because of aggressively worded email subject-lines. Clearly the people receiving these emails already donated and were supportive of Ossoff and the democratic party.

But this issue is bigger than this one election. If these tactics are representative of Ossoff and he is the future of the party, I’m not sure I like where the party is headed. These click-bait tactics are disrespectful and if you disrespect your donors they will not respect you in return.

Resisting Injustice

Ideas, stories, and analysis from members of Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG), the legal arm of the #resistance.

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Lawyer. Progressive Activist. Ravenclaw. All around badass.

Ideas, stories, and analysis from members of Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG), the legal arm of the #resistance.

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