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“Unicorn Farts.”

“They wouldn’t want me to say that.”

“Those two are driving me crazy.”

“I’ll say what I say please.”

If you think these sentences read like email subject lines written by US Senator John Kennedy, you’re right. These are actual subject lines from fundraising appeals made by the Kennedy campaign in recent weeks, mostly personally signed by the senator himself.

Like his counterparts in the US Senate, Kennedy relies heavily on email communications for fundraising. His campaign sends out two to three email calls daily to potential donors, each as wacky and eye-catching as the next.

The emails produce a tone that matches Kennedy’s folksy brand and style of public rhetoric, according to Joshua Darr, a Louisiana State University political science professor who specializes in campaign strategy.

“We know that email subject lines are A/B tested within an inch of their life,” Darr said. “There’s only one goal: to get people to open the emails. I find it hard to believe these subject lines are untested. If Senator Kennedy reports us ‘farts of unicorn”, it’s because he tested better than anything else.”

U.S. Senator John Kennedy, right, speaks with Thomas Tebbe during the Rotary Club of Shreveport Luncheon at the Shreveport Convention Center, Tuesday, 28, 2019.

The actual bodies of Senator Kennedy’s emails were likely refined and analyzed as well. The content certainly teeters on that fine line between fact and fiction, especially when it comes to the senator’s own fundraising.

In the real world, Kennedy breaks all fundraising records for an incumbent senator from Louisiana. In the digital universe that exists in his email stories, he is “outnumbered and outnumbered” and consistently lacking in fundraising goals.

Here’s the fundraising report Kennedy offered to his supporters last week: “I’m not feeling great right now because my team just informed me that I missed my month-end goal of July, and my socialist opponents continue to rise in power.”

Asked about the pace of dollar inflows, a Kennedy campaign spokesperson said that in fact, “the fundraising is holding up.”

So what gives? To get their own answers, a group of researchers from Princeton University looked at more than 100,000 political emails in 2020. The finding won’t surprise you – when it comes to these political emails, “the tactics of manipulation are the norm, not the exception,” according to the study.

“It’s not like the recipients of these emails are going to rush to FEC.gov to see who wins and who loses,” Darr added.

The same study also touched on one of Kennedy’s repeated tactics, which is to promise donors that their contributions will be matched. In an email sent to potential donors last week, Kennedy boasted of a “1,000% match” for any contribution, but offered little more detail.

In their review of 100,000 emails, Princeton researchers found “approximately 13,000 emails promising ‘matching’ donations, typically by unspecified entities. Election Commission individual contribution limits.”

On the other hand, if you dig deeper into Kennedy’s claims about weak fundraising, you’ll find a grain of truth. Online fundraising, especially small dollar donations, has slowed at an alarming rate for Republican incumbents at all levels. The New York Times recently reported that “the total amount of online donations fell more than 12% across all federal Republican campaigns and committees in the second quarter compared to the first quarter…”

Small-dollar online donations to Democrats, by comparison, are up — “by $100 million between the last quarter of 2021 and the most recent three-month period.”

Ben Riggs, the campaign manager for former fighter pilot Luke Mixon, one of Kennedy’s Democratic opponents, described such donations as “the cornerstone of our campaign”. He also said financial reports would show an uptick: “We’ve invested heavily in digital fundraising and built a strong online operation,” Riggs said, “with donations averaging $28 and growing by 85. % between T4 and T1 and 104% between T1 and T1. Q2.”

Kennedy will probably want to share those stats with his followers, but he may not have mentioned that Mixon only raised $1.1 million of his $29 million.

For now, Kennedy is pulling new email tricks out of her campaign bag. Over the past week, Kennedy has moved to a raffle-style approach that offers “the top five donors” the chance to win autographed photos and t-shirts.

There’s also a mug to be won with Kennedy’s head on it, with the word “HONEST” engraved underneath.

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