Category Archives: campaigns

“Trump raised so much last month he erased Biden’s cash advantage”

Politico:

Former President Donald Trump’s huge May fundraising haul erased President Joe Biden’s longstanding cash advantage as the two gear up for a rematch.

Trump’s campaign had $116.6 million in the bank at the end of May, compared to $91.6 million for Biden.

It wasn’t due to poor fundraising on the incumbent’s part — Biden’s campaign saw a decent fundraising rebound in May after a weak showing the month prior. But Trump’s fundraising while he was on trial in New York that month, punctuated in the final days when he was convicted, was enough to surpass Biden in campaign cash, something that had long been seen as a crucial strength of his.

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Indiana: “Beckwith poses a ‘serious threat’ to Braun’s campaign, says GOP powerhouse lawyer” (Includes Jim Bopp Memo)

Indiana Capital Chronicle:

Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike Braun faces a “serious threat” to his candidacy after Noblesville pastor Micah Beckwith was selected as his running mate, according to an internal campaign memo penned by prominent conservative attorney Jim Bopp.

The five-page report, obtained by the Indiana Capital Chronicle Sunday evening, outlines “several negative effects” of Beckwith’s nomination, including concerns that Beckwith will cause “division and chaos” and “undermine” Braun’s leadership.

Chief among Bopp’s worries, however, is the possibility that Beckwith could keep Braun out of the Statehouse altogether.

“Beckwith’s nomination as Lt. Gov poses a serious threat to the Braun candidacy, election and administration,” Bopp wrote, later saying in the memo that “the Democrats have a real opportunity to launch a serious campaign in the fall because of Beckwith’s nomination, and it has already begun.”

The Terre Haute-based lawyer theorized that current Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jennifer McCormick could be swapped out with Joe Donnelly, a former U.S. senator from Indiana, and she would be moved to the lieutenant governor spot on the ticket. 

Bopp said the Democrats’ campaign “would focus almost exclusively” on Beckwith and his “radical” views. He pointed specifically to a video Beckwith made after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, in which he said the assault was “divinely inspired.”….

When asked about the memo, Bopp said in a statement to the Capital Chronicle that, “I do not discuss confidential communications with others. And I think it was despicable that someone leaked it.”

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Citing First Amendment, Michigan Supreme Court narrows construction of voter intimidation statute after 2020 robocall prosecution

People v. Burkman and People v. Wohl, decided yesterday by the Michigan Supreme Court, a 5-2 decision. The majority narrowed construction of the statute and remanded for further consideration. The dissenting opinions, which concurred in part, would have held that the conduct fell outside the scope of the statute. The core of the holding is that the criminal statute still extends to “proscribe that speech only if it is intentionally false speech that is related to voting requirements or procedures and is made in an attempt to deter or influence an elector’s vote.” On remand, the court will decide whether the facts of the case fit that here. From the opinion (lightly revised):

Continue reading Citing First Amendment, Michigan Supreme Court narrows construction of voter intimidation statute after 2020 robocall prosecution
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Social-pressure mailers back in the news

Since Gerber, Green & Larimer’s 2008 study – among the most widely cited articles in political science since that time – there’s been both academic and practical interest in the sizable turnout impact of mailings using the shaming impact of voter-file information about election participation, both with and without measures to mitigate backlash.

Green & Gerber later warned against the most heavy-handed version of this sort of shaming, noting that though voter-participation data is usually public, that fact isn’t always salient to voters — and that “Your phone will ring off the hook with calls from people demanding an explanation.”

But the heavy-handed versions persist (and not just for fundraising), and controversy follows.  To wit: the campaign mailer in a recent Texas primary runoff:

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“Trump’s Campaign Donor Website Crashes After Guilty Verdict”

NYT:

WinRed, the payment processor for Republican campaign donations, crashed after former President Donald J. Trump’s felony conviction, a technical issue that his campaign attributed to the number of people trying to donate in the immediate aftermath of the verdict.

“So many Americans were moved to donate to President Trump’s campaign that the WinRed pages went down,” the Trump campaign said in a statement on social media.

The website no longer shows an error message when visiting the donation page for Trump’s campaign, though it is unclear if the website is properly functioning and processing donations. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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“Debunking misinformation failed. Welcome to ‘pre-bunking’; Election officials around the world are adopting ‘prebunking’ campaigns, as AI and other threats jeopardize voting.”

WaPo:

Election officials and researchers from Arizona to Taiwan are adopting a radical playbook to stop falsehoods about voting before they spread online, amid fears that traditional strategies to battle misinformation are insufficient in a perilous year for democracies around the world.

Modeled after vaccines, these campaigns — dubbed “prebunking” — expose people to weakened doses of misinformation paired with explanations and are aimed at helping the public develop “mental antibodies” to recognize and fend off hoaxes in a heated election year.

In the run-up to next month’s European Union election, for example, Google and partner organizations are blanketing millions of voters with colorful cartoon ads on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram that teach common tactics used to propagate lies and rumors on social media or in email.

One 50-second animation features a fake news campaign in which “visiting tourists” are blamed for a “litter crisis.” The example is meant to educate voters about “scapegoating,” a disinformation technique that places unwarranted blame for a problem on a single person or group.

Google has no plans to launch such a campaign in the United States, where former president Donald Trump and his allies are spreading falsehoods about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, laying the groundwork to cast doubt on the results of Trump’s rematch with President Biden in November.

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“Trump’s Reported Fund-Raising Tops Biden’s for First Time”

NYT:

Former President Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party out-raised President Biden and the Democrats last month for the first time in this election cycle, according to campaign officials, as Mr. Biden’s pace of fund-raising slowed significantly from March.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have said privately that his campaign, together with the Republican Party and all of their affiliated committees, raised $76.2 million in April. The Biden campaign said on Monday evening that it had raised $51 million in April with the Democratic National Committee — which was just over half as much as they raised in March, and also a touch less than they raised in February.

In filings with the Federal Election Commission on Monday, Mr. Biden’s campaign committee reported taking in $24.2 million in April, compared with $43.8 million in March.

Mr. Trump’s campaign still lags far behind in total cash on hand, the April filings show. Mr. Biden’s campaign ended April with $84.5 million on hand, holding roughly steady from the preceding month, while Mr. Trump’s campaign had $48 million in net cash on hand, up from $45 million in March….

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“See How Easily A.I. Chatbots Can Be Taught to Spew Disinformation”

NYT:

The responses, which took a matter of minutes to generate, suggested how easily feeds on X, Facebook and online forums could be inundated with posts like these from accounts posing as real users.

False and manipulated information online is nothing new. The 2016 presidential election was marred by state-backed influence campaigns on Facebook and elsewhere — efforts that required teams of people.

Now, one person with one computer can generate the same amount of material, if not more. What is produced depends largely on what A.I. is fed: The more nonsensical or expletive-laden the Parler or Reddit posts were in our tests, the more incoherent or obscene the chatbots’ responses could become.

And as A.I. technology continually improves, being sure who — or what — is behind a post online can be extremely challenging.

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“Gene Mazo survives petition challenge in NJ-10 special election”

New Jersey Globe:

Eugene Mazo, a Rutgers law professor with a penchant for filing for political office in order to test out state election laws, has just barely survived a challenge to his nominating petitions for the special election in New Jersey’s 10th congressional district.

Leslye Moya, the co-executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, had filed a challenge against many dozen of Mazo’s 243 signatures, claiming that they had a variety of deficiencies. But Administrative Law Judge JoAnn LaSala Candido determined that only 43 of them were invalid, keeping Mazo at 200 acceptable signatures – exactly the threshold required for ballot access.

The attorney representing Moya, Raj Parikh, said at the end of the hearing that he will not officially withdraw his challenge until he speaks with his client.

The judge’s determination means that, at least for now, the Democratic primary field for the late Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-Newark)’s congressional seat will remain at 11 candidates. Two of those candidates, former East Orange Councilwoman Brittany Claybrooks and Newark City Council President LaMonica McIver, are also facing petition challenges that have yet to be resolved.

Either McIver or Claybrooks are far more likely to end up prevailing in the July 16 Democratic primary than Mazo, whose runs for office are usually not concerned with actually winning.

Mazo, a scholar of election law, has run for Congress several times before, utilizing unusual or provocative ballot slogans in order to challenge the state’s slogan restrictions. (In 2022, for example, he filed for the 8th congressional district using slogans like “Supported by the Governor” and “Endorsed by the New York Times,” statements that were not true.)

This year, Mazo filed at first with three ballot slogans referencing a variety of famous figures, fictional and real: “Vladimir Putin Is A Murderous Warmonger” in Essex County, “Xi Jinping Will Destroy Taiwan” in Hudson County, and “The James Bond of Newark” in Union County. But those were rejected by the Division of Elections; Putin and Xi, after all, had not granted Mazo their permission to use their names….

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“Top RNC lawyer resigns after rift grows with Trump”

WaPo on the campaign losing the adult in the room:

The top lawyer at the Republican Party is resigning after he cited conflicts with his other work obligations and after Donald Trump grew angry about his criticism of the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, people familiar with the situation said Saturday night.

The lawyer, Charlie Spies, is a long-respected GOP election operative who was hired by Trump’s top lieutenants in March after the former president engineered a takeover of the Republican National Committee, which in recent years has been the party’s main operation in both fundraising and field operations.

Trump had approved of the hiring but later learned about additional comments the lawyer had made. Spies in the past had worked for, either directly or indirectly, former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). He was liked by Trump’s top advisers, who orchestrated his hiring even though they knew he was skeptical of Trump’s false claims of a stolen election….

Spies had been tasked with leading the party’s vast legal spending and election integrity program, and his hire was viewed as a sign Trump’s RNC could attract significant party talent.

Trump aides had worked to save Spies from being ousted after learning Trump was angry about his previous comments. They’re trying to convince Trump that Spies was a stronger election lawyer than others and to forgive the comments, said people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. He was viewed as close with LaCivita and Susie Wiles, Trump’s two top aides….

Spies has also repeatedly defended the presidential election system as being nearly impossible to rig, citing the broad distribution of authority in managing elections. During a 2021 appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he said correctly that allegations of widespread voting machine error in Michigan were false and that repeated recounts in Georgia had failed to show any voter fraud in the 2020 race there.

“Let’s win the elections, and not get worried about things that aren’t true,” he said at that event.

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“As Meta flees politics, campaigns rely on new tricks to reach voters”

WaPo:

After years of pitching its suite of social media apps as the lifeblood of campaigns,Meta is breaking up with politics. The company has decreased the visibility of politics-focused posts and accounts on Facebook and Instagram as well as imposed new rules on political advertisers, kneecapping the targeting system long used by politicians to reach potential voters.

Waves of layoffs have eviscerated the team responsible for coordinating with politicians and campaigns,according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private personnel matters. This includes foreign-based workers and U.S. employees who promoted the company’s products to politicians and fielded questions from campaigns about their services.

An advertising sales team, which once embedded with the Trump team during the 2016 election campaign, is now responsible for many of their previous responsibilities, the people said.

Meta’s shift away from current events is forcing campaigns to upend their digital outreach in a move that could transform the 2024 election.Comparing March 2020 to March 2024, both the Biden and Trump campaigns saw 60 percent declinesin their average engagement per Facebook post, a Washington Post review found, with double-digit declines on Instagram.

The Trump team has cast Meta’s moves as an effort to tip the scales in favor of Biden. The Biden campaign, meanwhile, had already begun to shift its online focus, rolling out a cadre of influencers and volunteers to spread their messages across private spaces on social networks….

Meanwhile, political campaigns are adjusting to this new reality. Biden appears to be countering the trend by posting more frequently on social media accounts — including from official White House pages — to drive engagement. Biden-linked Facebook posts increased from about 300 in March 2020 to more than 600 in March 2024, while Trump’s posts dropped from more than 1,000 in March 2020 to about 200 in March 2024, the Post analysis found.

While Trump dramatically increased posts to his own social network, Truth Social, he has refrained from publishing frequently on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Top Trump campaign adviser Chris LaCivita likened Meta’s push away from politics to a form of shadow banning, when tech companies allow users to post but secretly depress who sees the content.

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“How Republicans texted and emailed their way into a money problem”

WaPo:

In the years after Donald Trump lost the presidency to Joe Biden, Trump sent so many emails and text messages asking for money that Republican consultants warned his mailing lists could become useless. The former president’s friends told him that they were being asked for too much, too often, and Trump himself ordered aides at one point to slow the solicitations. Some of his fans, pockets emptied, mailed handwritten letters apologizing for not being able to give more.

Now, as Trump and Biden prepare for a rematch, Trump’s vaunted small-dollar fundraising operation is not bringing in as much money as it once did.

In 2020, Trump and his fundraising committees raised a record $626.6 million from small-dollar donors, 35 percent more than Biden took in from that group.

But last year, Trump raised just $51 million from small donors, way down from the $119 million he registered in 2019 and only 18 percent more than Biden’s total. His small-dollar haul — which includes donations of $200 or less — was not nearly enough to offset Biden’s lead among major donors.

The Republican National Committee also raised much less money from small-dollar donors in 2023 than it had in 2019, contributing to budget problems for the party. Officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee were shocked by the low returns on their investment in the strategy ahead of the last midterm elections.

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