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How We Examined Gmail’s Treatment of PoliticalEmails

Have you read this article yet? You may want to start here.

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Introduction

In early 2018, several advocacy groups noticed a drop in open rates for subscribers with Gmail domains. They said this had a negative impact on calls to action and donations. 

Using data sent to us by three of these advocacy groups as well as Change.org, a for-profit company that hosts petitions for political causes, we confirmed there was a lasting decrease in open rates unique to subscribers using Gmail. 

Ratio Gmail to Non-Gmail Open Rates from January 2017 to March 2019

Change.org
CREDO
Democracy For America
SumOfUS
Gmail : Non-Gmail Open Rates

0.5

1

1.5

2

Open rates in Gmail dropped by at least 47% compared to non-Gmail subscribers' rates in this period

Jan 2017

Jul 2017

Jan 2018

Jul 2018

Jan 2019

Date

Throughout 2017, all the organizations in the chart above had significantly higher email open rates for the Gmail subscribers than those that used other providers. Gmail open rates for Change.org (represented by the red trend line above) were, on average, 66 percent higher compared to those of non-Gmail subscribers. Between January and May 2018 (the blue rectangle in the graph), open rates for Gmail subscribers across all four organizations dropped by at least 47 percent compared to open rates for non-Gmail subscribers. Change.org experienced the greatest drop, 79 percent.

After May 2018, the ratio of Gmail to non-Gmail open rates mostly sat below 1.0 for the advocacy organizations. (We do not have data for CREDO Action past May 2018.) This signifies higher open rates for non-Gmail subscribers than Gmail subscribers. We agreed not to share raw open rates publicly, but we looked at them, and there was not a statistically significant increase in open rates for non-Gmail users between January and May 2018 for any of the four groups we analyzed.

In interviews, the advocacy groups we spoke to suspected that the plunge in open rates was due to a change in Gmail’s automated mailroom that was placing their emails in the “promotions” inbox rather than users’ primary inbox. The promotions inbox is one of five algorithmically labeled tabs added to Gmail in 2013. 

To begin to understand how Gmail classifies and sorts political emails, we designed an experiment with a new email address. We subscribed to receive emails from more than 200 political groups: from presidential candidates, House representatives approaching reelection in battleground states, think tanks, and advocacy organizations that either organized or supported political issues. Not everyone sent us emails. 

After four months of data collection, we analyzed 5,134 emails from 171 groups and politicians.

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Key Takeaways

  • Across the political spectrum, Gmail diverted nearly 90 percent of political emails from the primary inbox in our experiment. Most went to the “promotions” folder (50 percent), a feature enabled by default, or the spam folder (40 percent). About 11 percent of all emails were delivered to the primary inbox.
  • Gmail blocked almost half of the political senders in our sample from the primary inbox entirely—42 percent of senders failed to get a single email into the primary inbox. (This statistic excludes senders with fewer than two emails in our sample.)
  • Gmail categorized presidential candidates’ emails as promotions 64 percent of the time, which is more than it did for other categories of political email. It sent more than 90 percent of Bernie Sanders’s and Amy Klobuchar’s emails to promotions.
  • Gmail directed less than one percent of campaign emails from House of Representative incumbents in battleground states to the primary inbox.
  • There were some outliers: Gmail’s algorithm sent the majority of emails from some senders, including the American Enterprise Institute (99 percent), Democratic Socialists of America (75 percent), and Pete Buttigieg (63 percent), into the primary inbox.
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Limitations 

Our findings are based on a four-month study of one model email address and a list of political candidates, advocacy groups and think tanks that was robust but by no means exhaustive. 

Our data show how Gmail handled one particular inbox with no user input; it’s how the default algorithm worked in this case without individual user participation. 

Gmail says its algorithms respond to each user’s interactions to adjust categorization in the aggregate and for individual users. If so, email categorization will vary from person to person. It’s unclear to what extent this behavior would affect the categorization of political mail for any given person, but it’s important to note that our findings would not necessarily match where emails end up for a particular Gmail user.

We did not determine why Gmail categorized certain emails or certain senders’ emails the way that it did. 

Gmail does not have an explicit label in the email metadata for the primary inbox. To estimate the emails that wound up in the primary inbox, we subtracted emails that went to other default tabs (promotions and social) and spam. 

Gmail also labels emails with sorting for other tabs it offers, such as “updates,” but we did not analyze those categories because those tabs are turned off by default. Separating those emails would have further reduced the number of emails in the primary inbox—by 540 emails for the “updates” tab alone.

Organizations and campaigns send email from different addresses and domains, so we used a distinct tracking alias for each group and campaign (i.e., email+dnc@gmail.com) to identify the sender. All emails sent to that address were attributed to that sender. As a result, some emails may have been attributed to a sender incorrectly due to sharing or selling of email subscriber lists. 

To discern how often that might happen, we checked a sample, 400 emails (100 from each sender category), and found only four of them, one percent, were from another sender. Of those, two emails that we attributed to End the Border Crisis Now were instead sent by Chip Roy, who funds that website. The other two emails that came from a sender other than the alias were from the TJ Cox campaign. They were sent to the email address we had set up for Harley Rouda’s campaign. It appears that Rouda shared his subscriber list with others.

When we checked all the presidential candidate emails, the only mislabeled email was one from the GOP that used an alias we’d created for Trump events.

Of the 231 campaigns and groups we subscribed to, 60 did not send us any email, including, notably, DonaldJTrump.com. 

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Data Collection

We created a Gmail account using a new mobile number on Oct. 15, 2019. We used a new phone number to avoid having Google associate it with an existing Google user profile. Google disclosed to us that user activity influences email classification.

We used our new email address to subscribe to email communication from 231 entities: presidential candidates (N=17), House representatives in battleground states (N=141), and advocacy organizations and think tanks (N=73). The list of political advocacy groups and think tanks is neither comprehensive nor scientific, but we sought representation from organizations across the political spectrum. We made sure to include the groups that initially reported the drop in open rates in 2018 (CREDO Action, Democracy for America, SumOfUs, Color Of Change, Demand Progress, Courage Campaign, Presente.org, Social Security Works) as well as Change.org, which noticed the drop independently.

Some groups required a zip code for email sign-ups. In those cases, we used 33601—Tampa, Fla. 

We created a custom email alias for each sign-up, such as email+dnc@gmail.com, for bookkeeping. This was essential for tracing the emails we received back to the initial entities we shared it with. The complete list of the email senders we subscribed to can be found in the appendix. We did not receive emails from every group.

We collected 5,417 emails in our inbox from Oct. 16, 2019 to Feb. 12, 2020, from 171 out of 231 of the entities we signed up for. During this time frame, we periodically exported the inbox to an mbox file in Google takeout. Mbox is a standardized format of storing an email inbox as a single semi-structured text file. Regular exports were essential, as emails labeled by Gmail as spam disappeared after 30 days. 

We did not open, move, or label the emails in the inbox. 

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Data Preprocessing

We preprocessed the mbox files by extracting relevant metadata fields, filtering out 44 emails sent from Google and 235 emails from email addresses not in our study sample. 

These 235 emails are from nonpolitical groups (like the Girl Scouts and Veterans Affairs) that we had subscribed to at the start of the experiment but have since removed from our study. They also include emails that were not sent to a tracking alias, which may have occurred because the email sign-up form rejected the alias or the sender removed the alias.

There were no emails in the trash or sent folders, which we would have removed from the study. 

Our final dataset consisted of 5,134 emails.

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How We Classified Emails

We referenced Gmail’s own email labels, found in the metadata field X-Gmail-Labels, to establish a set of classifications for the emails we received. 

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Email Category

Primary Inbox are emails that do not contain “category promotions,” “spam,” or “trash” in X-Gmail-Labels.

Promotions are those labeled by Gmail as category promotions in X-Gmail-Labels but not as spam. Although emails can receive both labels by Gmail, the presence of the spam label directs the email to the spam folder in the user interface. In our sample, 69.22 percent of the emails that Gmail labeled as spam were also labeled as category promotions. We marked these emails as spam and not promotions.

Spam is any email labeled by Gmail as spam in X-Gmail-Labels.

We only analyzed data for email placement in spam and tabs that Gmail enables by default: primary, promotions, and social. Gmail offers another two tabs, but those must be activated by the user.

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Building Our Email List

We used the following distinctions when deciding which entities to sign up for:

CategoryDescriptionN subscribedN received
Presidential candidateWe chose the 10 top-polling candidates running to be the Democratic nominee as of Oct. 15, 2019. Later, we added Tulsi Gabbard, who has filed a lawsuit related to Gmail, as well as Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. We also signed up for President Donald Trump’s campaign emails, although we did not receive any, and two Republicans running for the nomination, Joe Walsh and Bill Weld.1716
House battlegrounds officialOfficial “.gov” websites for House of Representatives incumbents in battleground states.7061
House battlegrounds campaignCampaign websites for the same House of Representatives incumbents as above.7144
Advocacy organization or think tank501c3s, 501c4s, 527s, think tanks and for-profit companies that work in activism or advocacy. Some examples are Change.org and the Cato Institute. 7350

For the full list of entities we signed up for, how many emails received from each, and the dates for the earliest and latest emails, refer to the appendix.

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Analysis

Overall, Gmail diverted almost all emails from the political groups and candidates we signed up to receive—89.37 percent—to promotions or spam. It delivered only 10.64 percent to the primary inbox. For many senders, Gmail did not send a single email to the primary inbox. 

Of the entities with at least two emails in our sample, Gmail blocked nearly half of them from the primary inbox—41.61 percent didn’t get a single email into primary in our test. Gmail’s email classification varied from sender to sender and category to category. 

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Gmail Categorization by Sender Category 

CategoryPrimaryPromotionsSpamTotal Emails
Advocacy organization or think tank8.85%46.38%44.77%1,865
House battleground campaign0.71%49.47%49.82%1,124
House battleground official44.79%24.92%30.29%614
Presidential candidate6.40%63.81%29.78%1,531
All emails10.63%49.69%39.68%5,134

Source

This table shows variances in how Gmail treated email from different categories of political entities in our experiment. We collected data from Oct. 16, 2019, to Feb. 12, 2020. 

For House campaigns, Gmail delivered less than one percent of emails to the primary inbox, diverting half the emails to promotions. Gmail treated House official emails differently, allowing almost half of those emails to the primary inbox—far more than other types of senders. Still, Gmail diverted one-fourth of the House official emails to promotions, even though “.gov” addresses cannot legally be used for campaigning.

Presidential candidates had the second lowest amount of emails sent to the primary inbox, 6.40 percent. Gmail sent fewer presidential candidates’ emails to spam than it did for other groups but sent the largest share to promotions, 63.81 percent.

Zooming in on each presidential candidate, two were outliers, with Gmail sending a high rate of their mail to the primary inbox: Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang, with 62.79 percent and 46.38 percent, respectively, far more than any other candidate. Gmail diverted less than 9 percent of their emails to promotions.

Compare this to Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Joe Walsh and Beto O’Rourke: Gmail directed none of their emails to the primary inbox in our experiment. Gmail categorized approximately 85 percent of Warren’s and Biden’s emails as promotions.

For Sanders and Klobuchar, Gmail sent more than 90 percent of their emails to the promotions tab—the most among presidential candidates. It delivered only 1.8 percent and 0.96 percent of their emails, respectively, to the primary inbox.

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Presidential Candidate Emails

NamePrimaryPromotionsSpamTotal Emails
Pete Buttigieg62.79%9.30%27.91%43
Andrew Yang46.38%4.35%49.28%69
Michael Bloomberg16.67%83.33%0.00%6
Julián Castro12.04%74.07%13.89%216
Bill Weld2.91%29.13%67.96%103
Tulsi Gabbard2.22%77.78%20.00%45
Bernie Sanders1.80%96.40%1.80%111
Cory Booker1.45%76.33%22.22%207
Amy Klobuchar0.96%90.71%8.33%312
Kamala Harris0.00%34.96%65.04%123
Joe Walsh0.00%5.49%94.51%91
Joe Biden0.00%85.71%14.29%91
Elizabeth Warren0.00%84.85%15.15%66
Beto O’Rourke0.00%19.57%80.43%46
Tom Steyer0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Donald J. Trump0.00%0.00%0.00%0

Source

This table shows how Gmail categorized emails from each presidential candidate in our experiment. We collected data from Oct. 16, 2019, to Feb. 12, 2020, except for Gabbard, whose emails we started collecting Nov. 8, 2019; and Bloomberg and Steyer, whose emails were gathered from Feb. 6, 2020, to Feb. 12, 2020. 

Although we subscribed to email updates on DonaldJTrump.com, we did not receive any emails from the Trump campaign. We also signed up for a Trump event and received one email sent from contact@action.gop.com, which landed in spam.

For the four groups that said they were harmed by decreases in their Gmail open rates starting in 2018, Gmail sent between 60.23 percent and 90.24 percent of their emails to promotions in our experiment. This was higher than the average for all advocacy groups and think tanks we signed up for, which was 46.38 percent.

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Select Advocacy Organizations

NamePrimaryPromotionsSpamTotal Emails
SumOfUs9.76%90.24%0.00%41
Change.org3.85%84.62%11.54%26
Democracy for America0.00%60.23%39.77%88
CREDO Action0.00%72.73%27.27%44

Source

This table shows how Gmail categorized emails from select advocacy groups in our experiment. These groups reported a sudden drop in open rates two years ago. The data were collected from Oct. 16, 2019, to Feb. 12, 2020.

For two of the groups, Gmail didn’t send any emails to the primary inbox in our experiment. One of these groups, CREDO Action, shut down in January 2020.

Just as some presidential candidates’ emails were outliers in how often Gmail sent them to the primary inbox, the same was true of some advocacy groups and think tanks, like the American Enterprise Institute, the Claremont Institute, and Democratic Socialists of America, at 98.86, 82.35, and 75 percent, respectively (see appendix).

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Company Response

Google communications manager Katie Wattie said in an email that the company’s categories “help users organize their email.” 

“Mail classifications automatically adjust to match users’ preferences and actions,” she said. “Users really like the tab organization.”

Wattie declined to say whether most users keep the tabs, but an email deliverability firm said about 34 percent of respondents to a 2016 survey said they use them. 

In response to concerns that Gmail’s tabs and inbox ads would turn into a “Facebook-style news feed where you have to pay for placement,” Wattie replied: “What you describe is not on our roadmap for Gmail.”

The advocacy groups whose open rates for subscribers using Gmail dropped in 2018 said that, in a phone call that year, a Google representative suggested they buy ads in the promotions tab to improve their access to Gmail users.

Wattie did not respond directly to questions about the call but rather wrote in an email that Gmail has not allowed “political content” in ads since 2016 and that those would include issue advocacy and fund-raising.

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Conclusion

We found that Gmail’s algorithm sent few emails from politicians and political groups to the primary inbox in our experiment. Half of political emails wound up in Gmail’s promotions tab, which the company says is for sales and marketing.  

We also found that Gmail’s categorization of emails was uneven across organizations and politicians. For instance, Gmail did not send a single one of Warren’s 66 emails to the primary inbox in our experiment, yet it did send 63 percent of Buttigieg’s emails to the primary inbox, the highest-profile location in Gmail’s default tabbed inbox. What occurred to Warren is not out of the ordinary: For 42 percent of email senders with at least two emails in our sample, Gmail didn’t deliver a single one of their emails to the primary inbox.

We were unable to discern from the data we gathered why Gmail treated emails from different political entities differently. The company said its algorithm decides where to place emails based on individual and group behavior. 

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Appendix

The spreadsheet of political entities we signed up for, their website, our email alias, as well as the category we assigned to them can be found here.

A list of political entities that did not send us any emails can be found here.

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Appendix 1A: Presidential Candidate Emails Received

Period of experiment 10/16/19 to 2/12/2020

NameEmailsDate of first emailDate of last email
Amy Klobuchar3122019-10-212020-02-12
Andrew Yang692019-10-222020-01-23
Bernie Sanders1112019-10-222020-01-01
Beto O’Rourke462019-10-212020-02-10
Bill Weld1032019-10-212020-02-12
Cory Booker2072019-10-212020-01-19
Donald J. Trump0
Elizabeth Warren662019-10-222019-11-21
Joe Biden912019-10-212019-12-05
Joe Walsh912019-10-222020-02-03
Julián Castro2162019-10-222020-02-07
Kamala Harris1232019-10-212019-12-19
Michael Bloomberg62020-02-062020-02-11
Pete Buttigieg432019-10-212019-11-21
Tom Steyer12020-02-062020-02-06
Trump rallies12019-11-052019-11-05
Tulsi Gabbard452019-11-082020-02-07

Source

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Appendix 1B Battleground House Campaign Emails

Period of experiment 10/16/19 to 2/12/2020

NameEmails receivedDate of first emailDate of last email
Abby Finkenauer142019-10-212019-11-19
Abigail Spanberger52019-10-202019-11-04
Andrew Kim192019-10-202020-02-11
Angie Craig12019-10-202019-10-20
Ann Kirkpatrick0
Ann Wagner322019-10-202020-02-07
Anthony Brindisi32019-10-212019-10-26
Antonio Delgado382019-10-202020-01-17
Ben McAdams602019-10-212020-02-08
Brian Fitzpatrick0
Chip Roy572019-10-232020-02-04
Chris Pappas332019-10-212020-01-02
Cindy Axne202019-10-202020-02-07
Colin Allred0
Collin Peterson0
Conor Lamb0
Dave Loebsack0
Dean Phillips682019-10-222020-02-12
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell172019-10-202020-02-02
Devin Nunes0
Don Bacon0
Donna Shalala172019-10-312020-02-11
Duncan Hunter0
Elaine Luria602019-11-082020-02-12
Elissa Slotkin12019-10-202019-10-20
Fred Upton12019-10-202019-10-20
George Holding0
Gil Cisneros0
Greg Gianforte0
Haley Stevens42019-10-212019-10-28
Harley Rouda582019-10-212020-02-10
Jaime Herrera Beutler232019-11-162020-02-11
Jared Golden12019-10-212019-10-21
Jeff Van Drew122019-10-212019-11-18
Jim Hagedorn202019-11-042020-02-10
Joe Cunningham212020-01-092020-02-06
John Carter0
John Katko0
Josh Harder662019-10-202020-02-12
Katie Hill0
Katie Porter562019-10-252020-02-06
Kendra Horn0
Kenny Marchant0
Kim Schrier72019-10-202019-12-23
Lauren Underwood0
Lee Zeldin212019-10-282020-01-31
Lizzie Pannill Fletcher352019-11-012020-02-12
Lucy McBath12019-10-202019-10-20
Matt Cartwright502019-10-202020-01-17
Max Rose552019-10-202020-02-10
Michael McCaul0
Pete Olson0
Pete Stauber0
Rob Woodall12019-10-202019-10-20
Rodney Davis0
Ross Spano0
Scott Perry12019-10-202019-10-20
Sean Casten692019-10-212020-02-11
Sharice Davids42019-10-202019-12-02
Steve Chabot332019-10-202020-02-12
Steve King0
Steve Watkins92019-11-172020-02-09
Susan Brooks12019-10-202019-10-20
Susan Wild452019-10-202020-02-11
Susie Lee32019-10-202020-01-19
TJ Cox552019-10-242020-02-01
Tom Malinowski0
Tom O’Halleran262019-10-202019-12-31
Troy Balderson0
Will Hurd12019-10-202019-10-20
Xochitl Torres Small0

Source

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Appendix 1C Emails Received from Official House Accounts, Battleground Districts

 Period of experiment 10/16/19 to 2/12/2020

NameEmailsDate of first emailDate of last email
Abby Finkenauer102019-10-282020-02-10
Abigail Spanberger282019-10-182020-02-10
Andrew Kim82019-10-212020-02-04
Angie Craig162019-10-182020-02-07
Ann Kirkpatrick92019-10-302019-12-19
Ann Wagner182019-10-162020-02-10
Anthony Brindisi102019-10-182020-02-06
Antonio Delgado112019-10-302020-02-07
Ben McAdams42020-01-232020-02-04
Brian Fitzpatrick32019-10-162019-10-18
Chip Roy12019-10-282019-10-28
Chris Pappas42019-12-202020-02-07
Cindy Axne72019-10-252020-02-06
Colin Allred172019-10-212020-02-07
Collin Peterson0
Conor Lamb72019-11-022020-02-07
Dave Loebsack0
Dean Phillips152019-10-182020-02-11
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell102019-11-172020-02-09
Devin Nunes0
Don Bacon122019-10-222020-02-04
Donna Shalala0
Duncan Hunter12019-11-222019-11-22
Elaine Luria112019-10-212020-02-11
Elissa Slotkin162019-10-312020-02-11
Fred Upton152019-10-192020-02-08
George Holding22019-10-222019-10-28
Gil Cisneros122019-11-012020-02-09
Greg Gianforte22019-11-052019-11-20
Haley Stevens192019-10-212020-02-12
Harley Rouda32019-11-122020-01-17
Jaime Herrera Beutler162019-10-202020-02-02
Jared Golden122019-10-242020-02-10
Jeff Van Drew12020-01-302020-01-30
Jim Hagedorn212019-11-182020-02-11
Joe Cunningham82019-11-012020-02-07
John Katko92019-10-182020-01-31
Josh Harder32019-10-302020-01-24
Katie Hill12019-10-252019-10-25
Katie Porter42019-10-222019-12-11
Kendra Horn42019-11-042020-02-01
Kenny Marchant12019-12-222019-12-22
Kim Schrier12019-11-152019-11-15
Lauren Underwood152019-10-232020-02-04
Lee Zeldin0
Lizzie Pannill Fletcher142019-10-232020-02-09
Lucy McBath172019-10-292020-02-08
Matt Cartwright12019-11-252019-11-25
Max Rose42019-11-092020-02-02
Michael McCaul22019-11-122020-01-09
Pete Olson222019-10-212020-02-11
Pete Stauber122019-10-222020-02-11
Rob Woodall172019-10-212020-02-10
Rodney Davis272019-11-112020-02-12
Ross Spano162019-10-202020-02-09
Scott Perry52019-10-222019-12-17
Sean Casten102019-10-252020-02-07
Sharice Davids152019-10-222020-02-06
Steve Chabot0
Steve King22020-01-202020-02-07
Steve Watkins0
Susan Brooks0
Susan Wild162019-10-252020-02-07
Susie Lee162019-10-212020-02-12
TJ Cox22019-12-032020-01-23
Tom Malinowski162019-10-292020-02-12
Tom O’Halleran0
Troy Balderson42019-10-252020-01-29
Will Hurd162019-10-182020-02-07
Xochitl Torres Small132019-11-012020-02-02

Source

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Appendix 1D Advocacy Group or Think Tank Emails Received

 Period of experiment 10/16/19 to 2/12/2020

NameEmailsDate of first emailDate of last email
AARP0
ACLU552019-11-062020-02-11
ASPCA0
Adopt a State0
American Cancer Society272019-10-212020-02-12
American Conservative Union0
American Enterprise Institute762019-10-212020-02-12
American Family Association732019-10-222020-02-11
Americans for Prosperity0
Americans for Tax Reform0
Amnesty International USA532019-10-222020-02-06
Avaaz252019-10-312020-02-09
CREDO Action442019-10-312020-01-26
Campaign for Liberty0
Cato Institute562019-10-222020-02-12
Center for American Progress32019-10-312019-11-03
Center for Education Reform12019-10-212019-10-21
Center for Responsive Politics0
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities322019-10-312020-02-10
Change.org262019-10-212020-01-21
Citizens United12020-01-022020-01-02
Claremont Institute172019-10-212020-02-12
College Republicans0
Color of Change622019-10-312020-02-12
Courage Campaign232019-10-312020-02-09
DCCC542019-10-312019-12-19
DNC1702019-10-312020-02-12
DSA42019-10-312020-02-03
Demand Progress132019-11-022019-12-06
Democracy for America882019-10-312020-02-09
Doctors Without Borders0
EMILY’s List1142019-10-312019-12-31
End Border Crisis Now552019-11-032020-02-04
Extinction Rebellion242019-10-212020-02-12
Faith and Freedom Coalition0
Family Research Council0
Focus on the Family0
Free State Project42019-10-212020-02-07
FreedomWorks0
GLAAD0
Heritage Foundation512019-10-282020-02-10
Indivisible772019-11-012020-01-29
Jay Inslee382019-10-312020-02-12
Jefferson Movement102019-10-212020-02-08
John Birch Society212019-10-212020-02-10
Leadership Institute0
League of Conservation Voters22019-11-012019-11-02
League of Women Voters of Missouri12019-10-212019-10-21
Lincoln Network12019-10-212019-10-21
MoveOn.org802019-10-312020-02-12
NARAL592019-11-012020-02-11
NORML262019-10-212020-02-11
NOW72019-10-312019-11-14
NRA0
NRCC0
NRSC32019-11-142019-11-16
National PTA0
National Right to Life22019-10-212019-10-21
Open Markets Institute152019-10-312020-02-06
PETA0
Planned Parenthood322019-10-312020-01-30
Presente.org72019-12-022020-02-05
R Street992019-10-212020-02-12
RNC0
Sierra Club642019-10-302020-02-12
Social Security Works612019-11-012020-01-29
SumOfUs412019-10-312020-02-04
Swing Left82019-10-312020-02-06
Tea Party Patriots412019-10-212020-02-10
TechFreedom0
Turning Point USA0
United We Dream72019-12-202020-01-24
Young Americans for Liberty122019-10-212019-12-31

Source

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Appendix 2A: Gmail Filtering of Emails from House Battleground Campaigns

Sorted by percentage of emails sent to primary inbox.  Period of experiment 10/16/19 to 2/12/2020

NamePrimaryPromotionsSpamTotal Emails
Lucy McBath100.00%0.00%0.00%1
Sharice Davids50.00%25.00%25.00%4
Abigail Spanberger20.00%40.00%40.00%5
Jeff Van Drew8.33%66.67%25.00%12
Susan Wild4.44%57.78%37.78%45
Steve Chabot3.03%39.39%57.58%33
Sean Casten0.00%92.75%7.25%69
Dean Phillips0.00%27.94%72.06%68
Josh Harder0.00%25.76%74.24%66
Elaine Luria0.00%96.67%3.33%60
Ben McAdams0.00%93.33%6.67%60
Harley Rouda0.00%44.83%55.17%58
Chip Roy0.00%0.00%100.00%57
Katie Porter0.00%69.64%30.36%56
Max Rose0.00%43.64%56.36%55
TJ Cox0.00%96.36%3.64%55
Matt Cartwright0.00%18.00%82.00%50
Antonio Delgado0.00%73.68%26.32%38
Lizzie Pannill Fletcher0.00%91.43%8.57%35
Chris Pappas0.00%54.55%45.45%33
Ann Wagner0.00%3.12%96.88%32
Tom O’Halleran0.00%7.69%92.31%26
Jaime Herrera Beutler0.00%8.70%91.30%23
Lee Zeldin0.00%0.00%100.00%21
Joe Cunningham0.00%9.52%90.48%21
Jim Hagedorn0.00%70.00%30.00%20
Cindy Axne0.00%0.00%100.00%20
Andrew Kim0.00%57.89%42.11%19
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell0.00%0.00%100.00%17
Donna Shalala0.00%5.88%94.12%17
Abby Finkenauer0.00%78.57%21.43%14
Steve Watkins0.00%0.00%100.00%9
Kim Schrier0.00%85.71%14.29%7
Haley Stevens0.00%100.00%0.00%4
Susie Lee0.00%33.33%66.67%3
Anthony Brindisi0.00%33.33%66.67%3
Jared Golden0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Susan Brooks0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Scott Perry0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Elissa Slotkin0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Will Hurd0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Rob Woodall0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Fred Upton0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Angie Craig0.00%0.00%100.00%1

Source

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Appendix 2B: Gmail Filtering of Emails from House Official Accounts

Sorted by percentage of emails sent to primary inbox.  Period of experiment 10/16/19 to 2/12/2020

NamePrimaryPromotionsSpamTotal Emails
Antonio Delgado100.00%0.00%0.00%11
Troy Balderson100.00%0.00%0.00%4
Chris Pappas100.00%0.00%0.00%4
George Holding100.00%0.00%0.00%2
Michael McCaul100.00%0.00%0.00%2
Jim Hagedorn95.24%4.76%0.00%21
Fred Upton93.33%0.00%6.67%15
Scott Perry80.00%0.00%20.00%5
Lizzie Pannill Fletcher78.57%7.14%14.29%14
John Katko77.78%22.22%0.00%9
Don Bacon75.00%8.33%16.67%12
Max Rose75.00%0.00%25.00%4
Pete Stauber66.67%16.67%16.67%12
Brian Fitzpatrick66.67%33.33%0.00%3
Abigail Spanberger64.29%32.14%3.57%28
Susie Lee62.50%12.50%25.00%16
Jaime Herrera Beutler56.25%0.00%43.75%16
Ross Spano56.25%43.75%0.00%16
Xochitl Torres Small53.85%15.38%30.77%13
Abby Finkenauer50.00%0.00%50.00%10
Ben McAdams50.00%50.00%0.00%4
Katie Porter50.00%25.00%25.00%4
Steve King50.00%0.00%50.00%2
TJ Cox50.00%50.00%0.00%2
Rob Woodall47.06%47.06%5.88%17
Sharice Davids46.67%33.33%20.00%15
Jared Golden41.67%16.67%41.67%12
Dean Phillips40.00%60.00%0.00%15
Susan Wild37.50%37.50%25.00%16
Tom Malinowski37.50%6.25%56.25%16
Elissa Slotkin37.50%37.50%25.00%16
Elaine Luria36.36%0.00%63.64%11
Lucy McBath35.29%11.76%52.94%17
Lauren Underwood33.33%26.67%40.00%15
Gil Cisneros33.33%41.67%25.00%12
Harley Rouda33.33%33.33%33.33%3
Josh Harder33.33%0.00%66.67%3
Will Hurd31.25%31.25%37.50%16
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell30.00%70.00%0.00%10
Rodney Davis29.63%11.11%59.26%27
Pete Olson27.27%4.55%68.18%22
Haley Stevens26.32%10.53%63.16%19
Angie Craig25.00%56.25%18.75%16
Andrew Kim25.00%37.50%37.50%8
Joe Cunningham25.00%50.00%25.00%8
Kendra Horn25.00%0.00%75.00%4
Colin Allred17.65%47.06%35.29%17
Ann Wagner16.67%50.00%33.33%18
Conor Lamb14.29%14.29%71.43%7
Sean Casten10.00%50.00%40.00%10
Anthony Brindisi10.00%70.00%20.00%10
Ann Kirkpatrick0.00%0.00%100.00%9
Cindy Axne0.00%71.43%28.57%7
Greg Gianforte0.00%0.00%100.00%2
Katie Hill0.00%0.00%100.00%1
Matt Cartwright0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Duncan Hunter0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Chip Roy0.00%0.00%100.00%1
Kim Schrier0.00%0.00%100.00%1
Kenny Marchant0.00%0.00%100.00%1
Jeff Van Drew0.00%100.00%0.00%1

Source

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Appendix 2C: Gmail Filtering of Emails from Advocacy Organizations and Think Tanks

Sorted by percentage of emails sent to primary inbox.  Period of experiment 10/16/19 to 2/12/2020

NamePrimaryPromotionsSpamTotal Emails
League of Women Voters of Missouri100.00%0.00%0.00%1
Center for Education Reform100.00%0.00%0.00%1
American Enterprise Institute98.68%1.32%0.00%76
Claremont Institute82.35%17.65%0.00%17
DSA75.00%0.00%25.00%4
Free State Project50.00%25.00%25.00%4
Avaaz40.00%12.00%48.00%25
Jefferson Movement40.00%0.00%60.00%10
Open Markets Institute33.33%66.67%0.00%15
Heritage Foundation19.61%1.96%78.43%51
NORML19.23%11.54%69.23%26
Extinction Rebellion16.67%12.50%70.83%24
Cato Institute16.07%0.00%83.93%56
John Birch Society14.29%0.00%85.71%21
United We Dream14.29%71.43%14.29%7
SumOfUs9.76%90.24%0.00%41
American Family Association9.59%76.71%13.70%73
Demand Progress7.69%53.85%38.46%13
Change.org3.85%84.62%11.54%26
American Cancer Society3.70%33.33%62.96%27
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities3.12%28.12%68.75%32
Tea Party Patriots2.44%41.46%56.10%41
Indivisible1.30%64.94%33.77%77
R Street1.01%63.64%35.35%99
DNC0.00%37.06%62.94%170
EMILY’s List0.00%71.05%28.95%114
Democracy for America0.00%60.23%39.77%88
MoveOn.org0.00%75.00%25.00%80
Sierra Club0.00%75.00%25.00%64
Color of Change0.00%77.42%22.58%62
Social Security Works0.00%65.57%34.43%61
NARAL0.00%69.49%30.51%59
ACLU0.00%96.36%3.64%55
End Border Crisis Now0.00%0.00%100.00%55
DCCC0.00%7.41%92.59%54
Amnesty International USA0.00%0.00%100.00%53
CREDO Action0.00%72.73%27.27%44
Jay Inslee0.00%7.89%92.11%38
Planned Parenthood0.00%28.12%71.88%32
Courage Campaign0.00%13.04%86.96%23
Young Americans for Liberty0.00%50.00%50.00%12
Swing Left0.00%100.00%0.00%8
NOW0.00%100.00%0.00%7
Presente.org0.00%0.00%100.00%7
Center for American Progress0.00%100.00%0.00%3
NRSC0.00%33.33%66.67%3
National Right to Life0.00%50.00%50.00%2
League of Conservation Voters0.00%0.00%100.00%2
Lincoln Network0.00%100.00%0.00%1
Citizens United0.00%0.00%100.00%1

Source

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