President Trump’s primetime speech from the Oval Office may not have changed any minds, but judged purely as a fundraising event targeting Trump’s base, the presidential address might have been a resounding success.
A text-message blitz keyed to the speech drew more than 200,000 Americans to a special donation page on Trump’s 2020 re-election site—four times as many as a similar drive last year centered on the State of the Union address, and far more than previous text messages pushing MAGA hats and Christmas ornaments.
Trump’s pre-address fundraising began Tuesday afternoon. “I'm addressing the nation tonight at 9 PM EST,” wrote Trump. “Get on the Official Secure The Border list my team sends me afterwards. Donate NOW.”
Analytics from the URL-shortener Bit.ly shows 114,000 people have clicked on the pre-address link, 60,000 within the first two hours after the message began going out.
A second wave of messages followed after the speech wrapped up. “I just addressed the nation on Border Security. Now I need you to stand with me. Donate to the Official Secure The Border Fund NOW.” That link has garnered another 102,000 clicks, 67,000 of them in the first two hours, validating pundits’ assessments that the border wall speech was well received by Trump’s base.
Both texts delivered donors to a special page on the Trump campaign website soliciting money for something called the “Official Secure The Border Fund,” care of Donald J. Trump President, Inc. “We need to raise $500,000 in ONE DAY,” the page reads.
The page solicits contributions from $25 all the way to $2,700. There’s no way to know how many people actually contributed, or how much they gave, but counting each click as a $25 donation yields a back-of-the-envelope valuation of $5 million dollars for a nine-minute speech aired by every national network for free.
The RNC managed a parallel email blitz that took voters to a different, but nearly identical, donation page where the “Official Secure the Border Fund” is another name for the RNC’s joint fundraising venture with Trump. Analytics aren’t publicly available for the RNC’s email drive, so it’s unclear which Official Secure The Border Fund performed better last night.
Trump has been using text messages to appeal directly to supporters since his 2016 run, but a quick search didn’t immediately turn up any single Trump text message barrage as successful as the Oval Office event.
A 2016 text drive promising contributors a special place on Trump’s “Donor Wall” in Trump Tower garnered only 28,000 clicks through bit.ly/TrumpDonorWall. Another 2016 text blitz capitalized on anger over Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark to earn 54,000 clicks.
Last year, 22,000 people responded to a text urging them to show solidarity with red-pilled rapper Kayne West by buying a red MAGA hat from the Trump campaign.
The Tuesday night address wasn’t the first time Trump has used the weight of his office in his online fundraising. Ahead of the State of the Union address last year, Trump pulled in 54,000 smartphone clicks by promising donors their names would appear on-screen during the campaign’s live stream of the constitutionally-mandated speech to Congress.
Text messages are emerging as the key fundraising medium in the runup to 2020. At an event in October, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale reportedly held up his cellphone and declared, “This is how Donald Trump stays president for four more years.”