Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke is trouncing Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the fundraising game.
The Democratic representative from Texas who is challenging Cruz in November raised $10.4 million in the second quarter — compared to $4.6 million raised by Cruz in the same time, according to the respective campaigns.
O’Rourke announced the number during a Facebook Live broadcast on Wednesday night. The progressive candidate has made a pledge to not accept PAC money, a point he highlighted while addressing supporters.
“You have made something absolutely extraordinary happen in Texas,” O’Rourke said. “Extraordinary because we can’t find many other Senate races that have raised this kind of money in a three-month period. We can’t find one in Texas, maybe ever, that has done this. And to do it in this way, through small-dollar contributions — that’s what democracy looks like.”
This haul puts O’Rourke in a good position going into what will be a closely watched and competitive fall campaign. The Democrat now has more cash on hand than Cruz going into the fall: $14 million compared to $10.4 million. O’Rourke also broke his own fundraising record of $6.7 million set in the first quarter.
Though Cruz’s $4.6 million number was also his personal best, it’s less than half of what O’Rourke pulled in. The Democratic candidate has consistently out-raised the Republican incumbent, save for the first quarter after he announced his Senate bid in March of last year, according to the Texas Tribune.
Much of the money came from small, individual donations, O’Rourke told his supporters. He estimated his campaign received 215,714 individual donations in the second quarter, a marked increase from about 141,000 in the first quarter. O’Rourke said the average contribution is $33, with about 70 percent of the donations coming from within the state.
Beto O’Rourke still has an uphill battle
The fundraising haul demonstrates how much Democratic enthusiasm there is about O’Rourke’s candidacy. However, he still has huge odds to overcome if he wants to beat Cruz in deep-red Texas.
The latest polling average from RealClearPolitics has Cruz ahead by more than 8 percentage points; in every single poll released from May to July, Cruz has consistently been ahead, although a few polls — including from Quinnipiac University and the University of Texas — have seen the Republican’s margin shrinking.
And it’s worth noting that money doesn’t always translate to an automatic win; Hillary Clinton far outraised Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race but lost the electoral votes needed to win. When all was said and done, the Trump campaign had spent $238.9 million through mid-October 2016, compared to the $450.6 million Clinton’s campaign spent.
This money will ensure that O’Rourke has enough resources to blast his message over Texas television screens, airwaves, and social media. The big question is if that will be enough to flip a solidly red Senate seat to blue.