Reports of O'Rourke Presidential Campaign's Demise Greatly Exaggerated

Beto O'Rourke encourages Dallas voters in November 2018.
Beto O'Rourke encourages Dallas voters in November 2018.
Brian Maschino
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The pattern has repeated itself several times even in the short period Beto O'Rourke has been a national figure. The media fawning over the former U.S. representative slows down a bit, because of fatigue or outside events, and people begin to wonder whether the El Pasoan has peaked, whether in his unsuccessful U.S. Senate race or his stealth presidential bid

Inevitably, O'Rourke has found a way to get his name back in the news whenever his hopes have appeared to fade. This week, following The Dallas Morning News' pooh-poohing his presidential chances over the weekend, O'Rourke fought back, leading a counter-rally during President Donald Trump's Monday visit to El Paso.

O'Rourke picked up a bundle of good press from the immigration-focused speech he gave at the rally. During his own rally and over the last couple of days, Trump has treated O'Rourke like a rival as well, making dubious claims about the size of the crowd at his rally — claims the El Paso fire department refuted — in order to minimize the impact of O'Rourke's event.

While O'Rourke said last week that he might wait until the end of the month to make an official announcement with regard to his 2020 plans, new numbers released Wednesday, both formal and informal, show he is right in the thick of things.

According to a new poll of 600 registered voters in New Hampshire by Saint Anselm College, more than 80 percent of voters in the key early primary state recognize O'Rourke's name among the 14 current and potential Democratic presidential candidates. Among those polled, 51.6 percent view him favorably and 8.2 percent negatively. About 20 percent of voters familiar with O'Rourke had neither a positive or negative opinion.

Of the candidates included in the poll with name recognition above 80 percent, O'Rourke had the second-lowest number of voters who viewed him unfavorably, trailing only California Sen. Kamala Harris. The number of voters who viewed him favorably was slightly behind but in line with top-tier candidates like Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who were all viewed favorably by between 60 and 65 percent of those polled. Joe Biden was viewed favorably by the highest number of those polled at 80 percent.

“The field is beginning to take shape a year out from the 2020 New Hampshire primary," New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque said. "Familiar faces Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are almost universally recognized, although the latter two start with some unfavorable baggage. First-time candidates Cory Booker and Kamala Harris are already well-known and well-liked, with potential candidate Beto O’Rourke not far behind."

Bookmakers also view O'Rourke as a strong contender.

Oddsmakers and BookMaker.eu, an online sportsbook, give O'Rourke the best chance of any Democrat to win the presidency. O'Rourke is +520 for the top job, according to the site, meaning a bet of $100 on him to win to become president would net $520 if he was victorious in 2020.

Trump is +188 to win re-election, according to the site. Immediately trailing O'Rourke among Democrats are Harris (+575), Joe Biden (+620) and Sanders (+900). Warren opens the second tier of candidates at +2,584 odds. The Democratic field, taken as a whole, is a 2-1 favorite to take power, according to the bookmakers.

It's a long, long ... really long ... time until Election Day, but O'Rourke is still in it, it seems. 

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