Nov 2, 2019 - Politics & Policy

The factors behind Beto O'Rourke's failed campaign

Beto O'Rourke consoles a crying fan.

Beto O'Rourke speaks to volunteer Charlie Jordan as she tries to hold back tears after O'Rourke announced he was dropping out of the presidential race. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Beto O'Rourke's bid for president fell apart because of weak polling numbers, fundraising troubles, debate struggles and failure to build a cohesive base, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Why it matters: The former Texas congressman was seen early as a potential frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. FiveThirtyEight notes O'Rourke struggled to maintain momentum from an early bounce after failing to reframe his candidacy around liberal issues like gun control.

Flashback: Some national polls put O'Rourke at 10% or higher soon after he announced his candidacy, according to FiveThirtyEight. But he quickly sank and has spent the last several months polling 5%.

  • His shift to the left and taking on President Trump directly were unsuccessful in boosting his favorability.

O'Rourke couldn't replicate the fundraising success he had in his 2018 challenge for Sen. Ted Cruz's seat.

  • O'Rourke raised just $4.5 million in Q3, slightly more than the $3.6 million in the previous quarter, but behind 10 other candidates, including President Trump.

O'Rourke's net favorability dropped about 6% after his October debate performance, according to FiveThirtyEight, the biggest dip for anyone on-stage.

  • In addition, O'Rourke didn't qualify for the November debate and had yet to register the numbers in any poll that would get him closer to qualifying, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The coalition of young, white suburban Texans he won over during his Senate run was never enough to win the presidential nomination, FiveThirtyEight editor Nate Silver writes.

What's next: "[H]is leftward turn may have also damaged his ability to run for statewide office in Texas again, as it’s still a Republican-leaning state," FiveThirtyEight writes.

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