Is the Pilot Working? RNC Says Google Sent Over 20M GOP Emails to SPAM in 6 Days

October 3rd, 2022 6:57 PM

The Republican National Committee told MRC Free Speech America on Monday that Gmail suppressed over 22 million GOP get-out-the-vote and fundraising emails Wednesday through Friday.

Gmail sent more than 3.1 million RNC emails to users’ spam filters on Wednesday, more than 9.8 million emails to spam on Thursday and nearly 10 million emails on Friday, the RNC said.

“We’re 40 days out from Election Day, we do not have any new transparency from Google,” the RNC wrote in an emailed statement. “We have raised this issue with Google for months with no resolution. On top of it all, our emails have been suppressed despite concrete changes that have improved overall performance.”

This comes more than a month after the FEC approved a Google pilot program to supposedly remove political spam bias from the email provider’s email filter, following widespread outcry among Republican politicians and political organizations.  

The RNC in September updated its email marketing practices around factors including recentness of click, petition signature and donation.

Republican Party emails’ delivery rates plummeted from a regular delivery rate of 90- to 100-percent to zero percent at the end of the month, Fox News reported, citing data that RNC reportedly provided to the outlet.

The high email spamming rates have continued for the last 10 months, affecting fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts, the RNC said. This indicates that Google has not taken definitive steps to limit the amount of GOP political emails hitting users’ spam folders, despite Google’s pledges to give political campaigns the option to have more of their emails sent to users’ inboxes.

A March North Carolina State University study exposed that Gmail marked 67.6 percent of right-leaning candidates’ emails as spam and just 8.2 percent of left-leaning candidates’ emails as spam. 

The study’s findings spurred Republicans to take various actions to hold Google accountable.

The Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) filed a joint complaint with the FEC in April, after learning the results of the NC State study.

GOP senators met with Google leadership in May, after which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said “Google deflected” and didn’t provide meaningful answers to senators’ questions.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) led 26 other GOP senators in June in introducing a bill to ban email providers from automatically marking certain political campaign emails as spam. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) introduced companion House legislation to that effect days later.

The bills, which remain pending in committees, would require Gmail to release quarterly reports noting how many times the provider flagged respective GOP and Democratic Party campaign emails as spam.

Later in June, Google requested the FEC approve a proposed pilot to send fewer political campaign emails to users’ spam boxes.

After the FEC approved Google’s proposed spam pilot in August, Republican politicians knocked the program, saying it doesn’t go far enough to ensure GOP fundraising emails reach Gmail users’ inboxes.

It appears those politicians’ concerns were on the mark.

GOP party leadership is reportedly exploring unspecified “legal options” to end Google’s “clear pattern of bias,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement to MRC Free Speech America.

"Big Tech bias is undermining the democratic process and the RNC is exploring our legal options to put an end to this clear pattern of bias,” McDaniel said. 

Google did not respond to an MRC Free Speech America request for comment.

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