Just 7 months ago, 39% of Texans didn’t know who Beto O’Rourke was.
That’s not terribly surprising. But, flash forward to September 2018, and it’s getting harder and harder for anyone to ignore Beto — whether or not they plan to vote for him in the race for United States Senate against Ted Cruz.
In the past few days, Beto O’Rourke has appeared on two widely watched national television programs.
Here’s his appearance on The Ellen Show:
And, from just last night, here’s his appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert:
Do These Appearances Make an Impact on the Race?
I saw Beto O’Rourke speak to a surprisingly large crowd in Round Rock back in 2017, when is name recognition was presumably even lower than the 61% it registered in February 2018. Seeing him sit down with Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Colbert is a lot of fun. It’s been a long journey to get to this point. But do his national TV appearances make a difference?
Here are three quick takeaways from watching him on The Late Show (I didn’t get a chance to see him on The Ellen Show live):
1. Beto is Relentlessly Hopeful
Ted Cruz and republicans have spent the past few weeks attacking Beto’s language, his arrest for DUI, his stance on the NFL protests, as well as his membership in a punk rock band. Cruz has also made vague and bizarre references to tofu and silicon and dyed hair. But he isn’t painting a positive vision for the future of Texas or the United States.
There’s a striking difference when you listen to Beto speak. He’s relentlessly hopeful about what can be achieved in the United States Senate. Even his low-cost television ads are inspiring and hopeful. Check it out:
I may be overly optimistic, but here’s what I think: Hope triumphs over cynicism every time.
2. Beto is Well-Positioned to Maintain His Fundraising Edge
Beto is destroying Ted Cruz in fundraising, which is ironic given that Cruz is tapping PACs for a large portion of his funding. As of Aug. 23, Beto had raised $23.6 million (with $14 million cash on hand). He had taken zero dollars from PACs. Conversely, Ted Cruz had raised $15.6 million (with $10.4 million cash on hand), and he had taken $4.3 million from PACs.
There was a poll early in the race in which Beto shifted from slightly behind to slightly ahead when respondents were told he was taking no PAC money. People love that Beto’s campaign is people-powered, and his national television appearances are sure to give him a fundraising bump.
Anyone anywhere in the country can donate up to $2,700 to Beto’s campaign. I’m sure his coffers are a little fuller after his appearances on national TV.
3. Beto is Putting Cruz on the Defensive
Stephen Colbert noted that Ted Cruz was planning to run a “response” ad on The Late Show at some point during the episode that featured Beto. I didn’t see this ad, but I was watching via Hulu Live rather than via cable or over the air — I’m not sure if my ads were the same as others.
But this is really telling. You know that Cruz and his campaign have been watching these appearances with great trepidation, and running a “response” ad during The Late Show indicates just how defensive they have become.
Let’s Make Cruz Even More Nervous
People from all around the country can donate to Beto’s campaign, which is nice. (You can, too, by the way.) But only here in Texas can we do two things:
- Engage each day with potential voters to make the case for Beto’s candidacy
- Vote for Beto on Nov. 6 (or preferably before during the early voting period)
This is the time for all of us to do what we can do to make up the 3 points that Beto is trailing by, at least according to a recent poll.
We have 54 days as of this writing. Let’s get the job done.