In what appears to be a presidential campaign first, President Donald Trump’s reelection team is renting out the email addresses and cellphone numbers of as many as 20 million Trump supporters — despite Trump’s earlier stance that political data is an “overrated” tool, according to The New York Times.
After winning the 2016 election, Trump’s team began assembling a comprehensive list of the president’s supporters — and that database has become one of the most-sought after databases among Republicans.
Consultants close to the Trump campaign are renting the database — or parts of it — not only to other Republican campaigns but also conservative groups and some businesses, The Times said.
> It is an arrangement that has the potential to help the Republican Party in key midterm races, while providing a source of revenue for President Trump’s campaign and the consultants involved.
> It has also set off concerns about diluting the power of one of Mr. Trump’s most potent political assets, while raising questions about whether his team is facilitating the sort of political profiteering that he disparaged during his campaign.
Though it is not uncommon for campaigns to rent out their data, The Times said the Trump campaign efforts do appear to be the first time a sitting president made use of the tactic.
> In recent weeks, Mr. Trump’s campaign, which is not known for its adherence to political norms, quietly signed a contract with a newly formed Virginia-based company called Excelsior Strategies to market the emails and cellphone numbers — what is known in the political industry as first-party data.
> Excelsior is offering the chance to email Mr. Trump’s supporters at a rate of $35 per 1,000 addresses — or more if the renter also wants to push posts into the Facebook timelines of supporters — according to interviews and marketing emails obtained by The New York Times. The firm has also explored the possibility of clients’ being able to send text messages directly to the phones of Mr. Trump’s supporters, according to the marketing emails and interviews.
> “Republicans have suffered from being behind in small-dollar fund-raising, and the president, over the course of the campaign and his presidency, has built the largest Republican first-party data list,” said Mr. Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, who engineered the agreement. “So giving other candidates and groups access to that data through a legal means to rent it was one of the best things I could do for the Republican ecosystem. And the campaign makes a little money, too. It’s a win-win.”
However, Cyrus Krohn, who helped build the Republican National Committee’s list in 2008, said widespread rentals of Trump’s database could backfire.
> “We’ve already become so inundated with an influx of political messaging that I would be concerned about oversaturating supporters with emails,” said Mr. Krohn, who left Washington and now runs a technology start-up in Seattle. “The response rates are going to degrade and the performance is going to wane.”