The race to qualify for the third Democratic debates in Houston is well underway, and the stakes have been raised. As well as polling at one percent in more than three DNC-recognized polls, candidates require double the number of individual donors they needed to qualify for Miami and Detroit.
If you need 130,000 people to like you, no wonder campaigns are getting creative about ways to sweeten the deal. Cockburn had a rummage through the online stores of the 2020 Democrats to see how they’re hustling for donations. We checked out what the eight Democrats who have already qualified were hawking too, because…well, you’ll see.
If you like iced coffee and miss Obama, why not spend $20 on a Joe Biden tumbler? Uncle Joe is leaning hard into his cutesy ‘ice cream and shades’ image, in the hope he comes across like a walking BuzzFeed listicle rather than a senile old blunderer. Just email Joe at joe30330 for more information.
For just $27, you can buy ‘Bernie bucks’ from the Democratic socialist’s online store. It seems like a fair trade-off, and if he gets elected, hyperinflation might see them becoming legal tender.
Cockburn has already discussed how Elizabeth Warren’s dog is the most appealing part of her campaign. So naturally the choice item in her store, at $18, is this dog neckerchief. ‘He’s a Very Good Boy, 15/10 in fact. Help make sure he gets to run laps on the White House lawn,’ the description reads. Cringe if you must, but it’s a lot less wince-inducing than the $20 ‘Persist responsibly‘ pint glass or the $25 mug that bears the slogan ‘I want my coffee like I want the middle class: strong‘, both of which are enough to put Cockburn off the prospect of drinking for at least six minutes.
This $30 Chasten Buttigieg t-shirt isn’t particularly good value. It isn’t particularly original either: compare and contrast with Warren’s dog offering above. But it’s worth featuring as a more subtle approach to showcasing Pete’s LGBT bona fides: several other straight candidates are hawking Pride-themed rainbow t-shirts and placards. What says ‘gay rights now’ more than a Michael Bennet tank top?
Speaking of Michael Bennet, Cockburn was particularly drawn to this 11oz. coffee mug on Michael Bennet’s site. Could it be the dullest piece of merchandise ever produced? It’s certainly the item that best personifies its candidate. Yours for $12!
If you can’t beat Joe Biden, why not make money off him? That seems to be the thought behind this pair of stickers from Cory Booker, piggybacking off a blunder Biden made in the Detroit debates. At $4 for the two, this purchase is a cost-effective way of saying ‘please get my man into double digits.’
Imagine the Venn diagram of ‘people who support Beto’ and ‘bikers’. It’s a perfect circle right?
The dog pattern could either indicate that this $15 product is intended for the canine species, or it’s a subtle callback to the sad mutt in O’Rourke’s regrettable Vanity Fair cover.
An ancient Polynesian legend tells of how these $4.99 wristbands turns the wearer’s fists into flaming balls of fury and imbues them with the power to punch Kamala Harris’s prosecutorial record back into the late Nineties.
The best item Andrew Yang sells isn’t the $10 ‘longer than long shot‘ shot glass. Nor is it the ‘secure the bag‘ tote bag, available for $35. It’s not even the ‘MATH‘ hat that’s ubiquitous at his rallies, also $35. No, Yang’s premium offering is the ‘famous “no tie” summer look’, yours for $40. In his words:
‘Just in time for summer, Andrew Yang’s famous “no tie” look sported during the summer 2019 Democratic Debates is now for sale in a limited quantity of 500.
‘What it means to purchase Andrew Yang’s ‘no tie’ look:
‘Receive one of 500 Official Certificate of Authenticity verifying purchase and ownership of the Andrew Yang “No Tie” look
‘No other product or items are included.
‘To be clear, you will not be receiving a necktie when you purchase this product.’
Inspired. With money-making schemes like this, Yang will be rich enough to give us all $1,000 a month in no time.
These $6 Amy Klobuchar stickers aren’t too impressive, even with the accompanying video from Amy’s daughter Abigail about how to use them. No, Klobuchar’s shop is a real missed opportunity. Where is the Amy for America-branded binder, aerodynamically designed to gather speed as you fling it at your nearest intern? Where’s the Amy Klobuchar comb, perfect for moodily eating salad with? Cockburn thinks perhaps this campaign’s marketing assistants could use a bit of gentle encouragement.
After plummeting in the polls, you can now only find Kamala Harris fans on her website, retailing for $9.99. Also available in her store for $29.99 is the ‘that little girl was me‘ t-shirt, a reminder of Harris’s brief viral moment in the first debates where she attacked Biden over busing, before flip-flopping a week later. Cockburn ensures that if, like Harris, consumers change their mind about their purchase, they can return it within 14 days for a full refund.
This Marianne Williamson button is $5, and if you buy it then Marianne can harness your soul power and divert it towards the dark psychic forces controlling American politics. Also doesn’t it look iconic?!
Yours for $25, this t-shirt depicts Julián Castro in the style of a Mexican lotería piece. Did you know he was the only Hispanic candidate running? Now you do.
Presidential candidates commonly release books. That’s nothing new. But a presidential candidate writing and illustrating a children’s book? About the severity of climate change? Available for $12.50? Jay Inslee, you spoil us!
Cockburn likes to imagine former congressman Delaney sitting alone in a warehouse filled with these stress grips ($3.50), squeezing away as he thinks about how he’s squandered millions of dollars of his own money while failing to reach one percent in Iowa.
John Hickenlooper is the only candidate selling woolen beanies for $25 in August, and for that reason, he deserves your vote? Maybe?
What’s the next best thing a low-polling candidate can do when they didn’t get a clash with Joe Biden in the debates? Market yourself on a largely ignored clash with Bernie Sanders. You go Tim Ryan, sell your $4 stickers!
Cockburn can’t really explain why Steve Bullock’s campaign are selling this t-shirt for $30. The description on their site reads: ‘Let’s not forget: because of Robert Mueller’s investigation, six Trump campaign advisers have been charged or pleaded guilty.’ Because Russiagate famously got the American heartland fired up, right? If you don’t fancy that $30 tee, there’s always this one featuring a bull emoji and a lock emoji. Bull-lock. Get it? Going to vote for him? Didn’t think so.
This $30 t-shirt is one of several on Gillibrand’s website. All of them are gender-neutral. How many of them are gathering dust in a stock room?
For five bucks less, you can get this Seth Moulton t-shirt. It only costs $25, and is a great way to remind your friends that Seth Moulton hasn’t dropped out yet. The ‘f*ck’ on the back really sums up the Moulton campaign: desperate to be noticed, not brave enough to say anything substantive.
Sir, for a dollar, do you know who Tom Steyer is? Yes, an actual billionaire is selling these buttons for just $1. You want one? Sir? Come back, sir…
Honorable mentions must go to Bill de Blasio, Joe Sestak and Wayne Messam, who don’t sell anything on their websites. Sestak is fairly new to the race and de Blasio is presumably now aware that very few people want to give him their money. As for Wayne Messam, his website still says: ‘Be one of the first to contribute to this growing movement, and help us reach the 65,000 donors required to get on the DNC debate stage! Together, we can tackle the change our communities deserve.’ The threshold is 130,000 now Wayne. Aim higher!