Why Beto O’Rourke could lose in his quest to win the 2020 Democratic nomination

  • We’re profiling the contenders and announced candidates for the 2020 presidential election, with a focus on their potential electoral liabilities.
  • Today’s contender: Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a late-comer to the race for president in 2020.
  • Among several potential liabilities is the Texas Democrat’s late entry into an already crowded field of candidates.

Former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas is mulling a presidential bid in 2020. Now that he’s made the decision to run, he finds himself in an increasingly crowded field of candidates.

O’Rourke has considerable advantages over many of the other candidates, including a strong fundraising prowess and youthful appeal that garnered national attention during his failed campaign to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz during the 2018 midterm elections.

Read more: Trump mocks Beto O’Rourke after campaign announcement: ‘Is he crazy or is that just the way he acts?’

But like every 2020 candidate, O’Rourke is not without his flaws. Here are some reasons O’Rourke might not be able to pull off winning the nomination:


The Democratic field is very crowded.

There are already more than a dozen candidates either running or in the formal “exploratory” phase.

A crowded field could create difficulties for fundraising, which to O’Rourke’s credit, he showed a penchant for during his Senate campaign by bringing in large donation hauls.


The knives are already out for him.

O’Rourke was one of the very high-profile Democrats ahead of the 2020 election cycle. That means opposition research groups have already been hard at work looking to dig up dirt on him in any way they can.

During his time in Congress, O’Rourke had a fairly moderate voting record, which conservative political groups could use to highlight areas he has at times been less liberal and steer the Democratic base to sour on him.


He’s showing up late.

At least 11 Democratic candidates have already started their campaigns, all announcing before Republicans had jumped in at the same time in 2015.

Joining the 2020 race allows candidates to capitalize on some momentum and boost small dollar donations from the immediate hype.

But the later a candidate waits, the more ground and momentum they could be ceding to other eager Democrats already traversing the early primary states.


He’s young.

There have been a handful of presidents elected before they turn 50, but it is exceedingly rare. Meanwhile, the field of Democrats features a handful of older candidates with lengthier résumés.


He’s already been profiled by almost all the major magazines.

If you have read a profile of O’Rourke in a glossy magazine in the past year, you would have to be a lot more specific about which publication wrote it.

O’Rourke got the full treatment during his Senate race in 2018, becoming the subject of nearly a dozen magazine profiles in publications like Esquire, TIME, GQ, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Politico, and more.

These profiles help elevate candidates on the national stage. When there are already so many on the books, it makes it unlikely he will get another.


He is fresh off a loss.

O’Rourke narrowed the gap with incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race. But he failed to unseat Cruz, who has typically been a very polarizing figure on the right.


His voting record

O’Rourke is not a conservative by any means, but still holds a voting record considerably more moderate than some of the further left Democratic candidates in the race, like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

According to an analysis by Vox, O’Rourke voted with Democrats about 77 percent of the time during his three terms in Congress. A record like that could prove to be difficult in a race where many candidates will make a direct appeal to the Democratic base.