We’re getting some e-mail on this tempest in an inbox, first reported by Keith Koffler at White House Dossier. A new stunt from Team Obama, which looks rather tongue-in-cheek, offers donors a chance to play tricks on their Republican friends by forwarding their e-mail addresses to the campaign:
Who inspires you to give?
This holiday season, we’re giving you a chance to have a little fun at the expense of a Republican in your life by letting them know they inspired you to make a donation to the Obama campaign.
Simply enter their name and email address below. Then, we’ll send them a message letting them know they inspired you to donate.
Thank you for supporting this campaign, and happy holidays.
Important: By making a donation today, you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to have dinner with Barack and Michelle Obama. By clicking on the “Submit” button below or otherwise participating in the promotion, you agree to be bound by these Official Rules and represent that you satisfy all of the eligibility requirements.
Basically, this says We’re jerks who want to spam unwilling recipients, so why don’t you betray your friends and help us out? Hey, if that’s what Hopeandchange looks like in 2012, well, bring it on. As campaign strategies go, it’s on par with New Coke and those Miller Lite ads that imply that men who choose other brands might be a little light in the loafers.
Koffler explains the purpose of this campaign, as he sees it:
The Obama presidential campaign is launching an effort to collect Republican email addresses by inviting its supporters to submit information about their Republican associates to the Obama 2012 website.
The effort could help the Obama campaign build a database that would enable it to target Republican voters during the general election campaign. But, more perniciously, it could also become part of an Democratic effort to influence Republican primary voters to select a candidate Democrats think Obama could most easily defeat.
You mean like Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos in 2008? Even if that’s the ulterior motive in this case, it’s not likely to work. Limbaugh was on the air constantly to 20 million listeners and didn’t get Hillary Clinton the nomination or damage Obama in the primaries. Besides, Republican voters who get influenced on their primary choices by e-mail spam originating at Team Obama (or anywhere else) probably weren’t going to make good choices in the primary anyway. They have more effective options for impacting the primary race, although so far their efforts in the media and on the Internet have had little effect on the poll standing for Mitt Romney or for Newt Gingrich.
So what is the purpose of this campaign? Besides basic mean-spiritedness, it’s probably just to compile as big a list of e-mail addresses as possible for the general election. They needed independents and disaffected Republican voters in 2008 to win, and it makes sense that they’d want to get a subset of e-mail addresses for targeted messaging on that score. That doesn’t mean it will work, however, as thousands of Nigerian princes and Russian mail-order brides could tell you.
It’s almost certainly not a violation of the CAN-SPAM law, since campaign advertising isn’t “commercial” in the sense of the law’s definition, but being a spammer isn’t going to increase the credibility of Team Obama, either. Basically, as Sean Hackbarth pointed out on Twitter earlier, if you get unwanted e-mail from political campaigns, either unsubscribe or mark it as spam — which it truly is. And choose your friends a little more wisely in the future, too.