If Beto O'Rourke drives to a coffee shop or college campus and cable news doesn't mention it, does he make a sound?
O'Rourke's been running for president now, at least officially, for just more than a month. During those first 32 days, his campaign is happy to tell you, the former U.S. House representative from El Paso has done a lot of driving, 3,791 miles to be exact, and visited a lot of cities (63).
The man who almost beat Ted Cruz has been on the road for more than three weeks in the last month, visiting 11 states and the District of Columbia. As he did during his Senate campaign against Cruz, O'Rourke has documented his travels all the way on social media, too.
O'Rourke is following his playbook, taking questions at town halls, answering them in English and Spanish and making sure everyone knows he isn't taking any money from political action committees, corporations or lobbyists. He's even visited every one of New Hampshire's 10 counties, 10 months before the state's February 2020 Democratic primary.
Foss' former bassist has held 83 total events, many of them packed to the brim, and visited 19 schools. He is organizing in all 50 states, according to his campaign, and late Monday afternoon, he released 10 years' worth of tax returns on his campaign website.
More than 3.2 million people have viewed one of his live streams online, according to his campaign. But cable news, the medium that drove the presidential campaign narrative in 2016 and continues to do so as the 2020 campaign takes shape, has been much less kind to O'Rourke.
When he announced his candidacy in the early morning hours of March 14, O'Rourke got a spike in coverage that lasted a little over a week, according to the number crunchers at the FiveThirtyEight politics blog. The last week of March and the first couple of weeks of April haven't been nearly as kind.
During the week that ended Sunday night, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC mentioned O'Rourke just 136 times, fewer than Bernie Sanders, who received the most coverage, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. While Sanders, Booker, Warren and Harris all have national profiles thanks to their time in the Senate, Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has come from having almost no cable news coverage and no support in the polls to playing in the top tier of candidates. Just as he has on TV, Buttigieg has lapped O'Rourke in recent polls of Iowa, New Hampshire and Democratic voters nationwide.
O'Rourke has met the Democratic National Committee's polling and fundraising thresholds for competing in the party's first primary debates this summer, but he appears to be stuck in neutral in the polls so far. In the three most recent polls of the Democratic race in New Hampshire, O'Rourke has polled at either 7% or 8%. Iowa polls tell a similar story, with O'Rourke hanging out near the likes of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, with between 5% and 6% support.
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