5 things Beto O'Rourke's eye-popping fundraising reveals

The news was splashy: ...

Posted: Apr 4, 2018 1:29 AM
Updated: Apr 4, 2018 1:29 AM

The news was splashy: Texas Democratic Senate nominee Beto O'Rourke raked in almost $7 million in the first three months of 2018 in his (still) uphill challenge against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Excitement over O'Rourke's candidacy has been bubbling just below the surface for Democrats in Texas and Washington for a few months now, with optimism built, largely, on O'Rourke's fundraising ability and President Donald Trump's surprisingly unimpressive poll numbers in the Lone Star State.

Still, that optimism has been guarded -- largely because Democrats have been promising since at least 2002 that this is the election where the changing face of Texas -- less white, more Hispanic -- gives them a real chance to win a statewide election.

That optimism may be less guarded in the wake of this massive fundraising haul by O'Rourke. But, raising oodles of money doesn't guarantee an O'Rourke win. (If money = victory, then Tony Sanchez would have been governor and Ron Kirk would be in the Senate. They aren't.)

While O'Rourke's cash haul doesn't prove he's a sure-fire winner, it does reveal a few things about the race. Here are five.

1. Democratic donors hate Cruz: Sure, O'Rourke is young, personable and handsome. And, yes, Texas is a big state with lots and lots of donor money in it. But, a good chunk of O'Rourke's cash is the result of donors -- inside and outside of Texas -- who simply want to make Cruz sweat. Other than the current occupant of the White House, there's no Republican who Democrats hate more than Cruz -- largely as a result of his near-miss 2016 presidential campaign. That Cruz hatred among Democratic givers doesn't take away anything from O'Rourke; he saw the opportunity to run and capitalize on that dislike before anyone else did.

2. O'Rourke has a much higher $$$ ceiling: The $6.7 million O'Rourke raised between January 1 and March 31 came from 141,000 donations. Some simple back of the envelope math means that the average contribution was around $50. (Obviously that's a broad estimate, not a hard-and-fast number.) What it means is that O'Rourke should be able to go back to lots and lots of his donors and ask for more. (The contribution limit for an individual is $2,700 for the primary and another $2,700 for the general election.) The more he looks like he can be truly competitive, the easier that ask becomes.

3. PAC money is overrated: When O'Rourke announced his candidacy, he pledged not to accept any donations from political action committees -- a move aimed at proving he wasn't part of the DC swamp. Most independent observers crushed him for that decision, insisting that the residual benefits he would get from being able to cast himself as un-owned by the permanent political class would be overshadowed by how much money he would be sacrificing. (Cruz has raised north of $580,000 from PACs.) Turns out that O'Rourke hasn't needed PAC cash at all.

4. O'Rourke isn't a creation of the national Democratic Party: Per point No. 1, there's a tendency to assume that for any Democrat to raise the amount of money O'Rourke has that it must be coming from wealthy liberals on the two coasts who have cash to burn and just want to make Cruz's life difficult. Not so, at least as of February 18, the last day for which we have detailed information on O'Rourke's cash flow. (O'Rourke announced his fundraising through March 31 via press release but the actual report, which gives us a more detailed sense of where the money came from -- and how much of it he has left -- has yet to show up at the Federal Election Commission.) As of that date, 49.99% of O'Rourke's donations came from inside of Texas with the remainder from outside the state. That's a healthy split that suggests O'Rourke is not simply a creation of national Democrats but has actual, on-the-ground support among Texans.

5. This is a real race: Make no mistake: Cruz is still the favorite here. Texas remains a Republican state and despite what is expected to be a very good year for Democrats nationally, any credible GOPer starts with an edge over a Democrat in this state. That said, O'Rourke's fundraising will allow him to build a real voter identification and turnout effort statewide as well as battle Cruz on the TV airwaves. That doesn't guarantee victory. But it almost always ensures competitiveness.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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