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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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 604052

Reported Deaths: 7616
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1248161773
Ramsey52466895
Dakota46797470
Anoka42724458
Washington27406291
Stearns22552224
St. Louis18134312
Scott17544135
Wright16405148
Olmsted13390102
Sherburne1200195
Carver1066148
Clay825692
Rice8187110
Blue Earth762443
Crow Wing681494
Kandiyohi667585
Chisago619652
Otter Tail585684
Benton582998
Goodhue483474
Douglas475381
Mower470733
Winona461151
Itasca459263
Isanti439964
McLeod430161
Morrison424362
Nobles407950
Beltrami407561
Steele397616
Polk389072
Becker386555
Lyon363853
Carlton352756
Freeborn346932
Pine335023
Nicollet331045
Mille Lacs311454
Brown307840
Le Sueur297225
Cass286032
Todd285632
Meeker263142
Waseca238023
Martin235032
Roseau211021
Wabasha20783
Hubbard196241
Dodge18773
Renville182446
Redwood176338
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena162823
Fillmore157410
Faribault154319
Chippewa153938
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138737
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116626
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11296
Murray107010
Swift106918
Koochiching95117
Stevens92411
Clearwater89116
Marshall88817
Lake83120
Wilkin83112
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5938
Lincoln5843
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48093
Red Lake4017
Traverse3765
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 370840

Reported Deaths: 6048
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58221639
Linn21202339
Scott20303247
Black Hawk16106312
Woodbury15237230
Johnson1461485
Dubuque13505211
Dallas1128899
Pottawattamie11219174
Story1071148
Warren583791
Clinton561493
Cerro Gordo553693
Sioux516974
Webster515194
Muscatine4878106
Marshall486576
Des Moines467271
Wapello4337122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper420972
Plymouth402881
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300857
Henry294237
Bremer288161
Carroll286752
Boone268434
Crawford268240
Benton259655
Washington256951
Dickinson249444
Mahaska232352
Jackson225242
Clay216627
Kossuth216166
Tama211871
Delaware210943
Winneshiek198135
Page194522
Buchanan193433
Cedar192223
Hardin187544
Fayette186543
Wright185840
Hamilton181851
Harrison180073
Clayton171057
Butler166135
Madison164619
Mills163724
Floyd163242
Cherokee159438
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152752
Hancock150234
Iowa149824
Winnebago144431
Cass139155
Calhoun138913
Grundy137133
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131537
Sac130920
Union129935
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124717
Franklin123323
Guthrie123132
Humboldt119526
Palo Alto113523
Howard104922
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96432
Monroe96230
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7598
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Ringgold56324
Van Buren56318
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