Forget social media: Republicans are using an old tool in new ways to 'elicit red-hot anger' to raise more money
Woman using a laptop computer (Shutterstock)

Facebook and Fox News may no longer be the preferred methods of party communication leading up to the 2024 presidential election, according to a new report. Good old fashioned email campaigning is making a comeback - in part because the stated facts go largely unchecked.

"Lawmakers’ statements on social media and cable news are now routinely fact-checked and scrutinized. But email — one of the most powerful communication tools available to politicians, reaching up to hundreds of thousands of people — teems with unfounded claims and largely escapes notice," wrote The New York Times' Maggie Astor.

"The New York Times signed up in August for the campaign lists of the 390 senators and representatives running for re-election in 2022 whose websites offered that option, and read more than 2,500 emails from those campaigns to track how widely false and misleading statements were being used to help fill political coffers," Astor continued.

What they found was that "both parties delivered heaps of hyperbole in their emails. One Republican, for instance, declared that Democrats wanted to establish a 'one-party socialist state,' while a Democrat suggested that the party’s Jan. 6 inquiry was at imminent risk because the G.O.P. 'could force the whole investigation to end early,'" Astor reported.

READ MORE: New federal legislation aims to hold social media platforms liable for misinformation

Republicans included misinformation far more often: in about 15 percent of their messages, compared with about 2 percent for Democrats. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) falsely claimed that President Biden was “giving every illegal immigrant that comes into our country $450,000.” An email from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (R-NY) said the Mississippi law before the Supreme Court was “nearly identical to the one in Texas, banning abortions after 6 weeks,” but Mississippi’s law bans abortion after 15 weeks and does not include the vigilante enforcement mechanism that is a defining characteristic of Texas’ law, Astor asserted.

The people behind campaign emails have “realized the more extreme the claim, the better the response,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster. “The more that it elicits red-hot anger, the more likely people donate. And it just contributes to the perversion of our democratic process. It contributes to the incivility and indecency of political behavior.”

Syracuse University Professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley said “it’s hard to know what it is that politicians are saying directly to individual supporters in their inboxes. And politicians know that. Politicians and the consulting firms behind them, they know that this kind of messaging is not monitored to the same extent, so they can be more carefree with what they’re saying.”