Those almost daily appeals for money in your email aren't coming from distraught relatives or friends. They are part of a ceaseless competition for campaign cash in the online era, from the race for the White House to Congress and local office.
The stakes are high, measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle. Precisely how much is not known. The Federal Election Commission does not require federal candidates to tally donations raised via email or websites separately from those made in response to traditional mail, phone banks or candidate calls.
The director of online services for the Republican-aligned firm Arena Communications, Ben Olson, says that messages delivered digitally are faster and more agile than TV, direct mail or phones.