Home 2014 Races A Few of My “Favorite” Fundraising Emails from the Foust Campaign

A Few of My “Favorite” Fundraising Emails from the Foust Campaign


Over at Daily Kos, they’re mocking DCCC head Steve Israel for claiming, “You can’t be going out there and telling people that the sky is falling. It tends to hurt recruiting and fundraising.” Why is that mockable? Simple: because “this is the very same committee that sent all those DOOM emails.”

Let’s look at a local campaign, right here in Virginia – some of the “best” of the DOOOOM emails from the Foust for Congress campaign. While you’re reading these, I’d consider a few questions: 1) does any of this make the candidate look in the least bit dignified?; 2) does any of this really raise more money than simply sending out hard-hitting messages, without the doom-and-gloom, over-the-top, cringe-inducing idiocy?; and 3) is there any chance that a constant drumbeat of doom and gloom might – just might – cause Democrats to get depressed, discouraged, and to be less likely to volunteer and/or vote (or, as DCCC Chair Steve Israel said, “hurt recruiting and fundraising”)? Hmmmm.

With that, here are some of my “favorite” emails from the Foust campaign. Enjoy?

Date: June 10

Subject: “crushing blow”

Key line: “Everyone from Paul Ryan to the Koch brothers have gone ALL-IN to defeat John and buy this election for Barbara Comstock. That would be a crushing blow for Northern Virginia families.”

Comment: Setting a positive tone for the uncounted doom-and-gloom, hysteria-inducing emails to follow.

Date: June 18

Subject: “doomed”

Key line: “If we don’t act fast, John’s chances of winning could be doomed from the start”

Comment: That was generally the theme for the entire campaign, that they were “doomed” if we didn’t send $5 right away. Kinda like one of those “Nigerian prince” scam emails.

Date: July 16

Subject: “HUGE NEWS:”

Key line: “We OUTRAISED Barbara Comstock!”

Comment: Of course, a lot of that money came from Foust himself, and most of it ended up being wasted on super-expensive, extremely-low-bang-for-the-buck broadcast TV ads. But still…oh forget it.

Date: July 31

Subject: “crippled”

Key line: “If left unanswered, these ads will cripple us. We can’t let that happen.”

Comment: Actually, failing to define Comstock in the spring, when they had a chance, making huge unforced errors like the “real job” comment (then not immediately apologizing and stating clearly what he meant) “crippled” this campaign a lot worse than any TV ads.

Date: August 16

Subject: “Virginia, this is INFURIATING”

Key line: “Boehner’s lackeys just launched a phony news site called “Loudoun Update” to spread lies about John’s record.”

Comment: So…why are they calling me Virginia? Seriously, though, not sure why the email’s addressed to the entire state as opposed to the 10th district, and also why they’d want to make a big deal out of such a “nothing burger,” but anything to get people upset/angry so they donate $5.00.

Date: September 9

Subject: “Fwd: kiss all hope goodbye”

Key line: “If we can hit ONE THOUSAND donations before the Ryan fundraiser, it’ll be HUGE victory for us and a CRUSHING blow for Ryan.”

Comment: My god.

Date: September 19


Key line: “Your Support: $5.00”

Comment: I included this one for two reasons. First, they spelled the name of a key county in the district wrong (should be L-O-U-D-O-U-N). Second, they always asked for $5.00, warning that if they didn’t get that $5.00, they were “doomed.” Uh huh.

Date: September 21

Subject: “lost for good”

Key line: “Speaker Boehner’s attack ads begin NEXT WEEK. If we’re not prepared, our chance to turn Northern Virginia blue could be lost for good.”

Comment: I’m not sure there ever were attack ads specifically from Speaker Boehner, but they were right about one thing — that race was “lost for good” (but not because we didn’t give them $5.00 – lol).

Date: September 22

Subject: “HUMILIATING defeat”

Key line: “We can get back on track — and hand Boehner a humiliating defeat — but only if every Democrat reading this email steps up for John before tomorrow’s critical ad buy deadline.”

Comment: Time for another $5.00 – or we’re DOOOOOMED I tell you!

Date: October 10

Subject: “Fwd: E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y”

Key line: “Lowell — we’re still $931 short of our ad buy goal. this is an emergency. please see below:”

Comment: How can it be an “E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y” when it’s already “lost for good?” Just sayin’. 😉

Date: October 17

Subject: “!!! STUNNING comeback !!!”

Key line: “NOW: as of 7pm, we’re within range of an INCREDIBLE 5,OOO online donations — JUST IN OCTOBER !!!…If we can hit this mark by midnight, it’ll be a STUNNING comeback for us.”

Comment: Note that this was just under two weeks before Foust lost by 16 points to Comstock. So much for the “stunning comeback.” LOL

Date: October 20

Subject: “Fwd: It’s done. It’s over. Go home.”

Key line: “So we’re out of options. Either we all chip in what we can, when we can — or we pack up, go home, and call it a day.”

Comment: I believe this cringe-inducing email leads naturally to the next cringe-inducing email.

Date: October 23

Subject: “re: Washington Post: [just announced]”

Key line: “my team’s in a full blown panic. i’m not quite there — yet. But I need your help. -John”

Comment: How dignified.

Date: November 2

Subject: “GREAT new poll”

Key line: “A brand new poll shows Democrats trailing Republicans by just 1 point in Virginia’s 10th district.”

Comment: That “poll” actually was a total joke, didn’t poll Foust vs. Comstock per se, and was a wild outlier regardless. Two days later, Foust lost by 16 points. I guess they saved the “best” email for last. LOL

  • ZachPruckowski

    It’s a corollary to the old saying “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” – letting the DCCC control a campaign’s email fundraising is the “safe” choice, and it’s not surprising that’s what the Foust team decided to do. Especially given the amount of money the campaign was bringing in in the short term, I can’t really blame the Foust folks for sticking to the DCCC’s methodology.

    Further, I imagine it’s difficult to impossible to switch horses mid-stream. This DCCC’s strategy on emails didn’t really go completely off the rails until August or September. At that point even if folks wanted to change to a different email strategy, there’s no time to try to figure out a new game plan and no margin for error.

    That said, I think it’s definitely the case that (A) the DCCC needs to re-evaluate the pros and cons of this strategy heading into 2016 and (B) campaigns should be a lot more reluctant to go along with them if they retain this strategy. It’s simply not something that they can keep up for another cycle.

  • Fairfax Voter

    I realize the times were, to say the least, a bit different, but the flood of moronic emails this time was such a stark, stark contrast to the successful emails from the 2008 Obama campaign.

    Those were sent so many years ago that today’s emails should be a mile ahead of them instead of having fallen so far behind. The 08 emails actually built a sense of community, didn’t sound like they were written by lunatics, and provided all kinds of content — upcoming local events, links to David Plouffe whiteboard videos explaining strategy, “candid” behind the scenes video with new running mate Joe Biden, profiles of volunteers, all kinds of stuff.

    Yes, every single one had that big red DONATE button and some of the emails were simply asking for money without much more to them — Barack’s birthday! somebody else’s birthday! end of the quarter! end of the month! — but there was such a rich mix of content that it really built supporters (donors, volunteers, voters, etc.) and made me feel part of something bigger, instead of just obviously, embarrassingly, milking gullible, loyal people for money. For shame.

  • Eric Anderson

    True, Gerry Connolly was running as an incumbent against a significantly weaker opponent. But what a contrast between Connolly’s emails and Foust’s. The emails from the Connolly campaign really impressed me; they were substantive, clear about political principles, and yes, dignified. I unsubbed from the Foust mailing list; I enjoyed reading the Connolly emails, and they made me much more inclined to make a contribution. I just never believed that the Foust emails represented him, and for me, that was a big problem.