Republicans may have taken the victory in Texas Tuesday night, but Democrats are feeling pretty good nonetheless.
While the disappointment and anger over Robert “Beto” O’Rourke’s loss is there, Democrats now know they can draw blood in one of the reddest of the red states, and against a widely known and supported conservative. They don’t even need a remarkable candidate either, as O’Rourke, all things considered, is not all that noteworthy at the end of the day.
O’Rourke’s nipping at the heels of Cruz as they cross the finish line has Democrats looking at their playbook and wondering if that, if refined enough, could be used in all the red states to turn them a shade of purple, if not flip them altogether.
The Texas Observer noted as much in an article before the election ended, saying that O’Rourke brought out the vote in ways Texas hasn’t seen in some time, and to be sure, it’s an accurate observation. Texas is typically a state where the voters stay home, likely confident that it will stay the nice shade of red its always been.
However, the Observer also notes that O’Rourke’s success came because of its flawless execution:
For O’Rourke to even keep this race close, almost everything had to break his way. He had to run a near-perfect campaign, make no major blunders, capitalize on his personal charisma, raise record amounts of cash, rack up tons of “earned media,” force Cruz to make mistakes and fire up voters in a way no other Democrat had been able to do. With the exception of forcing a major Cruz screw-up, O’Rourke has done all that and more. Keep in mind that he’s completely ignored the conventional wisdom of campaign mandarins — the strategists and pollsters and insiders. And why not? The usual suspects have been leading the party deeper and deeper into a forest of irrelevancy.
Buried in the Observer’s observation is a theme. A Democrat’s campaign had to be perfect with all the dominos falling into place. That’s nearly impossible, especially in this day and age where internet access gives you unfettered access to someone’s history of flaws.
The proof is in the pudding. O’Rourke campaign did have some major blunders. There was the fact that O’Rourke’s past haunted him, be it the drunken crash he tried to flee, or the discovery of O’Rourke using eminent domain against the poor in El Paso to line his own pockets by working with his father-in-law’s development company to develop the land he stole.
O’Rourke survived these blunders thanks to a media working overtime to protect and support him.
Speaking of the media, it should be noted that O’Rourke didn’t raise the tidal wave of money he received during this campaign. Sure, he showed up, said flowery words, and was not named Ted Cruz. That he had charisma is undeniable. However, O’Rourke only gained the cash he did because so many media outlets were willing to give him the attention they did. Ellen DeGeneres had him on her program, Now This made shareable videos about him, and Hollywood celebrities took notice. The coastal elites salivated at the idea that someone who sounds just like them in Texas could break a party they hate and unseat a person they hate even more.
Any flaws O’Rourke had were swallowed by the unending friendly media attention and Scrooge McDuck levels of cash he was swimming in.
And herein lies why O’Rourke is no blueprint for a red state.
The number of resources it took to fall just short of victory was astronomical, and not just in terms of cash.
A lot of money was flushed down the drain attempting to make O’Rourke a blue senator in the reddest of states. Texas proved that over $70 million in cash can’t move the needle all the way over, and this was previously proven by Democrat Jon Ossof’s failure in Georgia, who also fell just short of winning as well despite massive funding from the left.
Funding helps, but it doesn’t make a winner. It’s an expensive loss, and Democrats may find themselves becoming more and more guarded with their wallets as their expensive failures begin to add up. Maybe not the mega-donors, and O’Rourke had more than a few, but the small dollar donations coming from everyday Americans may begin to slow.
But the other investment that costs too much is the emotional one. People heard non-stop about O’Rourke. Hollywood, the news, and more wouldn’t shut up about him. Texts were sent unceasingly to Texans. O’Rourke was at the forefront of your mind, and his campaign made sure he stayed there.
It was annoying. Aside from the left in Texas who loved him, many Texans were sick of hearing his name. Receiving those texts became a topic we complained about over beers. People started to respond to them with arguments, or even mockingly. O’Rourke slowly turned himself into a state-wide meme not to be taken seriously. Eventually, the annoyance resulted in a lawsuit.
It’s tiresome, and reinforcement to many Texans that the Democrats are willing to pull out all the stops to get elected here in the states, including violating your privacy. If a Democrat tries that again, it’s likely not going to be received well. The constant bombardment is just going to turn people off, especially now that they know it doesn’t work as well as they hoped it would.
With Texans already annoyed at the consistent finger-wagging from coastals looking down on us from the tips of their noses, it all amounts to a bitter resentment of the left and a feeling that they’re trying too hard and forcing themselves on us. It’s not a good look for Democrats.
In the end, the thing that will shade Texas purple isn’t anything the Democrats are doing, it’s everything Texas is doing.
It’s so friendly to business that companies are moving here left and right. Its economy is so powerful and its government hands-off that corporations relocate here from blue states. The problem is that it brings with them their blue state voters with their blue state beliefs and blue state habits.
Oddly enough, the overtly successful Republican economy will be the catalyst for a Democrat’s election in the future.