Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke raised an astonishing $38 million in the third quarter, according to a campaign press release Friday.
I can’t stress enough that this is an absurd amount of cash.
For perspective, then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., raised only $23.5 million in 2008 in the final quarter before both the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses. Obama was running for president. The amount that O’Rouke’s campaign just reported is more than what two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton raised in the third quarter of 2015. Back then, her campaign took in an estimated $30 million. O’Rouke’s haul is more than what Sen. Bernie Sanders’, I-Vt., presidential campaign reported raising in the same time period (it was $26.2 million).
For further perspective, as Roll Call’s Bridget Bowman notes, O’Rouke’s third-quarter total smashes the previous record for this time period, which was set in 2000 when former Rep. Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., ran unsuccessfully against Hillary Clinton as a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
In contrast, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, raised only $12 million in the third quarter. In any other time or place this would be considered a respectable amount. But compared to O’Rourke’s efforts, $12 million seems like peanuts.
[Related: Ted Cruz records another 9-point advantage over Beto O'Rourke: Poll]
Take heart, though, Cruzers – not all is lost. Despite O’Rourke’s record-setting haul and a cumulative $55.2 million raised as of Sept. 30, the Democratic hopeful has been falling further behind in the polls this month. And right when it counts. There was a time when O’Rourke’s campaign would fundraise off of data showing him nearly tied with Cruz. But reality is setting in for Democrats (this is Texas, after all) and Cruz has finally built a statistically significant lead, as several polls have shown.
The RealClearPolitics polling average currently gives the Texas Republican a seven-point advantage, 50.5 percent to O’Rourke's 43.5 percent. More importantly, Cruz has driven O'Rourke's negatives up higher than his own, probably thanks to recent reports about O'Rourke's 1998 drunk driving crash and attempt to flee the scene. There’s also that arrest for burglary. Also, Cruz has been highlighting O'Rourke's role as a city councilman in helping his family condemn and seize the homes of many poor Hispanic residents of El Paso. That’s probably not helping the Democratic candidate either.
At any rate, if O'Rourke fails, it will mean his supporters wasted more than $55 million – perhaps as much as $75 million – losing a Senate race. I hate to think what they’ll do to him when that happens.