Beto’s in! And already begging for money (today’s email subject line: “We will be heavily outspent”). Of course, the man from El Paso raised close to $80 million in last year’s Texas Senate race, and we can expect that cash is one thing his campaign WON’T lack for. Though now that he’s running against other Democrats instead of Ted Cruz, will grassroots be quite as eager to shower him with donations? He won’t be the only one trying to tap into the enthusiasm of individual Democrats determined to beat the Republicans this year. Bernie raised some $6 million when he announced; as one of at least a dozen solid candidates, can Beto do better?
Besides fundraising, Beto has also excelled at connecting with voters, both in person and online. As Taegan Goddard put it in PoliticalWire today (behind the paywall, alas), “he understands better than anyone else running how to get that message out” via TV, events and digital channels. His 2018 campaign was one of many on the Democratic side that relied heavily on peer-to-peer texting, enabled by the DNC’s purchase of millions of voter cell numbers for the midterm cycle. As Ryan Grim noted in an email to readers, yesterday “his camp emailed volunteers on the Senate campaign, saying, ‘We need help sending some text messages tomorrow morning.'”
Of course, every Democratic presidential campaign is going to be looking at tools like peer-to-peer texting and relational organizing, so Beto may not have a competitive advantage there, either. At least his campaign launch was solid, with a good video and a website loaded with t-shirts, yard signs and other “merch” (Kamala Harris’s online campaign store was also a hit when she announced). As my friend Tim Chambers noted in a back-channel discussion today, Beto’s campaign site is mobile-friendly and packed with analytics and tracking codes: a clear sign of an organization determined to wring every advantage out of each website visit.
Is Beto ready for a sustained slog of a campaign where he is not necessarily the standout star? The voters will be watching to see if he’s for real, and as NBC’s First Read said today, “no Democrat in the 2020 field is as boom-or-bust” as he is. Watch those early numbers, surely, but also watch to see how Beto does down the long stretch. The Democratic Convention starts on July 13…of 2020.