Trump’s Appeal to Patriotic Forgotten Small Donors

In a New York Times Op-Ed yesterday, Thomas Edsall noted that Trump is on a path to surpass Obama’s record collection of small donations — those under $200. What is Trump’s appeal to small donors?


First, I confess: When Trump announced that he was holding a rally in Greenville, NC, I requested tickets, not to go, but to help disappoint his obsession with crowd sizes.

Now I’m punished by regular emails from his campaign. Like the many emails I get from Democratic candidates, Trump’s emails ask for money. Some offer exciting chances to “discuss our Campaign Strategy for the rest of the year with you over breakfast”. At least Elizabeth Warren wants to buy me a beer, not just pancakes.

He’s even “told my team I wanted to bring someone who has been by my side from the very beginning, and I couldn’t think of anyone more LOYAL or supportive than Lee, from North Carolina.” If he can’t think of anyone more LOYAL than me, he’s in trouble. (Let’s hope.)

Small-donor Appeal

For reasons I’ll explain, the Trump campaign probably thinks I’m a potential small donor. So, to understand their approach to small donors, let’s look at one of those emails:

Here’s the first part of the email, with my handwritten annotations in red.

Handwritten annotations of a Trump campaign email.

Starting at the bottom, the campaign knows that I’ve never contributed, so I’m likely to be a small donor. The email immediately tries to connect to me as a good Christian among the many “forgotten” people in our country. I’m supposedly one of the people who’s been screwed by the Washington elite who have gotten rich off the government while I haven’t. That message is quite explicit.

Then it gets more subtle: Don’t worry, with our “Beautiful WALL” we’re taking care of keeping out those other people who threaten you. And we’ve made America respected again, which, of course, means that you’re respected again.

But now it is up to you: become part of a “select group of donors”. In fact, “don’t share this offer”: You’re that special.

After some buttons to contribute various amounts, the email finishes with appeals to my patriotism:

I especially love the PS. Next time he’s at the “office” he’s going to be looking for my name. Give me a break.

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