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‘Beto Boom’ goes bust, bigly

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 19:31:22-04

It’s been a very bad week for Beto O’Rourke. And it’s only Tuesday.

On Monday night, O’Rourke announced that he had raised just $3.6 million between April 1 and June 30, a massive decline from the $9.4 million the former Texas congressman — and 2018 Senate nominee — raised in just 18 days as a 2020 candidate in the first quarter of this year. And the bad news didn’t end there. He also spent more money than he took in over the past three months: O’Rourke had a burn rate of 146%, according to calculations from NBC News.

“We have the resources we need to be in this for the long haul, but if we don’t raise more this quarter, we’ll have no choice but to make some adjustments,” O’Rourke campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon acknowledged in an email to supporters on Monday night.

The bad news wasn’t done. A new New Hampshire poll from Saint Anselm College showed O’Rourke at 0% in the Granite State. A goose egg! (A CNN survey released Tuesday showed O’Rourke at 2% in the state.)

That slide is consistent with O’Rourke’s broader struggles in national polling over the past few months; the Real Clear Politics national polling average puts O’Rourke at 2.6%, good for fifth place overall.

The combination of his disappointing fundraising numbers combined with his ever-shrinking poll numbers has to represent rock bottom for a campaign that began with such promise. O’Rourke became a national sensation during his challenge to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 and, when he entered the 2020 race, was widely regarded as one of the most likely nominees for the party.

Those days feel like 100 years ago now. O’Rourke’s performance from the time he formally entered the race on March 14 is best described as listless. He seems like a man without a plan, lost amid a sea of more knowledgeable and more aggressive rivals. (The beatdown he took on immigration at the hands of former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro in the first debate cemented that impression for many people.)

Yes, it is still early in the 2020 race. (There are 202 days until the Iowa caucuses.) But O’Rourke’s trend line since he got into this thing is straight down. He needs a major moment sometime soon. If he doesn’t make one, his fundraising will continue to drag and staying in the race will look like a more and more difficult proposition.

The Point: Beto has to hope that not only has he bottomed out, but that he has enough time to bounce back. I’m skeptical — but not convinced he’s done just yet.