The Atlantic

The Myth of Beto O’Rourke

When does monster fundraising turn into real momentum?
Source: David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Beto O’Rourke’s fundraising is record-breaking, it is enormous, it is frightening and disheartening to other campaigns, it is likely to be more in a quarter than most candidates will raise in a year, and it is coming in more easily than his team expected—but it also isn’t just happening on its own.

In internal discussions, as he prepared to formally announce his campaign in mid-March, the former representative gave very clear directions to staff members: Do what needs to be done, spend what needs to be spent, as long as it means beating Bernie Sanders’s 24-hour fundraising total.

They did. They were just surprised at how little effort it took. Sanders raised $5.9 million, though without directly asking for donations. O’Rourke emailed his supporters repeatedly with lines like, “We will be heavily outspent,” urging them not only to give small money but to give the maximum legal amount, not just for what he’ll be able to spend

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