Don’t like Elizabeth Warren? Here’s your chance to tell her — or at least tell her presidential exploratory committee.
If you visit Warren’s political website —
elizabethwarren.com, revamped for her plunge into the 2020 waters — it initially looks as you would suspect: Her key messages like “WE WILL SAVE OUR DEMOCRACY,” in all caps, flash across the screen, then the site asks “Will you join our fight?” Below, a classic button appears, declaring “I’m all in,” which takes visitors to a page where they can share their contact information.
But below that are two other options, which aren’t so typical: “I’m not sure yet,” and, in even smaller print, “Actually, I’m not in, and here’s why.”
Click on that link, and a visitor arrives at a short questionnaire where they can select one of four reasons why they don’t support Warren. There’s also a box where Warren skeptics can describe in their own words why they don’t think Warren is the candidate for them.
“I’ve never seen a presidential candidate do that,” said Jennifer Stromer-Galley, an expert in the use of digital and social media in presidential campaigns at Syracuse University who’s been tracking such things since 1996.
Stromer-Galley sees the savvy hand of Joe Rospars, Barack Obama’s former chief digital strategist, at work in the novel twist. (A spokeswoman for Warren’s exploratory campaign did not respond to an inquiry.)
Bringing on Rospars, who led the former president’s digital strategy in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, has been seen as a strong sign for Warren’s nascent campaign. In the 2008 campaign, Rospars was particularly focused on helping Obama build support via campaign e-mails, Stromer-Galley said.
The game in this early phase of the Democratic primary, she said, is identifying and constructing a base of support — a task made all the more urgent given how crowded the Democratic primary field is expected to be.
While Warren, who has a national profile, already has a strong fan base, she will need to expand that to prevail in key primary contests. Asking visitors to her website what they don’t like about her appears to be part of the strategy the Warren camp is using to figure out how they bring aboard those on the fence, Stromer-Galley said.
She suspects that part of what Warren’s team is trying to do is figure out “what are the messages that they could start to construct that would really speak to people who at the moment are saying, ‘I am not interested in Elizabeth Warren. She’s too shrill, too angry, too liberal, too whatever.’ ”