Beto Is Just the Latest Best Great Hope for Texas Democrats

Beto O'Rourke, Senate candidate, fundraising phenom, and the latest Best Great Hope of the Texas Democratic Party: 641,052 votes in this week's primary.Ted Cruz: Incumbent senator, Mr. Conservative, and guy everybody in the media seems to think is vulnerable in the face of all available evidence: 1,315,455 votes.Over in the Texas Observer, Christopher Hooks notes that this is a rattle in the engine for the Democratic nominee's campaign, not that it is likely to stop national journalists from writing those glowing O'Rourke profiles: O'Rourke's low number says more about the party than it does O'Rourke, but it's still not a particularly great sign. A lot of weird things happen in the Democratic Primary, because the party is far from cohesive... That said, O'Rourke's soft spot so far has been name recognition. If you've seen 30 news stories a day about O'Rourke for the last six months and seen some of his packed rallies, that might seem strange, but there's room to question whether all the hype about the "punk rock Democrat" is translating to the masses -- one poll in January reported that 93 percent of Texas voters have an opinion about Ted Cruz, while only 39 percent had one of O'Rourke. In places where his name recognition is likely highest, O'Rourke did well -- 90 percent in El Paso, his home county, and 87 percent in progressive Austin. But in Dallas and Harris, the party's redoubts, he won only 58 percent, and in Bexar, only 63.National Review reporter Mairead McArdle quoted the communications director for the Texas Democratic party, Tariq Thowfeek, before the votes were in: "Texas is the nation's bellwether right now. It's a good gauge of the incredible progressive energy we have across the country in a state that is ranked at the bottom of the barrel in voter turnout."  Continue reading...

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