Election e-mail: Watching the race via inbox

C-VILLE news wire. File photo. C-VILLE news wire. File photo.

There’s no better reminder that we’re in the throes of election season than my inbox. The number of campaign e-mails I get on a daily basis—buildup from years of C-VILLE news editors getting added to the media lists of one flak or another, by request or otherwise—is astounding. And amusing, considering most of them are asking me for money and addressing me as “Will.” (Not sure why they think journalists will make good donors, or why they haven’t updated their media contact lists since the last presidential race.)

The messaging reached a fever pitch Saturday after Mitt Romney appeared on an aircraft carrier in Norfolk alongside Paul Ryan, his newly anointed running mate. Within hours, the missives started pouring in from both sides, and they offer a pretty good cross-section of the daily flood of election-related e-mails I can’t seem to escape—and an interesting preview of the kind of bashing and counter-bashing we can expect to see from both camps over the next two and a half months.

“We need to contact key voters immediately and make sure they know about the Romney-Ryan plan to put millionaire tax cuts over Medicare for seniors,” wrote Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Robby Mook (or an intern) at 9 a.m. Straight to the issue most likely to prove sticky for Ryan—and then straight to the ask, with a request to “Donate $3 or whatever you can right now.”

“We started in Norfolk and now we are headed to Ashland and Manassas where we are bringing our positive vision for a better future,” George Allen (or a speechwriter’s lackey) wrote two hours later, capitalizing on the campaign’s choice of the Commonwealth for the key announcement. “A better future where we can unleash Virginia’s energy resources from the coalfields to our coast. A better future where the men and women of our military don’t face $500 Billion in defense cuts. A better future where hard-working Virginians don’t face 200,000 lost jobs under Washington’s failed deal.” Poetry! He seemed to assume only slightly deeper pockets on my end: The request for a donation started at $5.

Next came a string of state-specific messages from Virginia Democrats—more criticism for the Ryan budget and Medicare reform model, and plenty for George Allen for cheering it. Finally, a few more notes from the DCCC pointing to a big GOP fundraising bump following the Ryan announcement and asking, not without a whiff of desperation, for donors to step up. These came with the ambiguous, no-caps, could-be-from-your-cousin subject lines the national Dems are especially partial to (“the floodgates,” “drowned out,” “disturbing news”).

All of it is evidence that these days, the election news cycle never sleeps, and that whatever’s coming directly from the campaign mouthpieces is largely selected for its potential to deliver dollars. To follow the race via e-mail is to see it through the eyes of those in charge of the filling the war chests, and they’re always hungry. I could unsubscribe, I suppose, but frankly, it’s pretty entertaining.