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Who is Beto O'Rourke?
Current job: Candidate for the president of the US.
Family: O'Rourke's wife is named Amy. They have two sons, Ulysses and Henry, and a daughter, Molly.
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
Political party: Democratic
Previous jobs: Representative for Texas' 16th Congressional District from 2013 to 2019; El Paso city council member from 2005 to 2011; cofounder of software and internet-services company Stanton Street Technology Group, which his wife now runs.
Who is Beto O'Rourke's direct competition for the nomination?
Based on a recurring series of national surveys we conduct, we can figure out who the other candidates competing in O'Rourke's lane are and who the broader opponents are within the party.
- The average O'Rourke-satisfied respondent said they were satisfied with 5.1 other candidates, which is okay: it means that people who like him tend to be considering just a few other choices. To stay competitive, he'll want to be in line with the top candidates in the race, for whom that number is less than four. Just 4 percent of his supporters liked Beto and Beto alone.
- Three quarters of the respondents who would be satisfied with O'Rourke as the nominee liked Elizabeth Warren, which is ten points better than Warren's performance overall among Democrats.
- Joe Biden, an already popular candidate, has about 70% of those happy with O'Rourke as the nominee would also be happy with Biden. That's also higher than the percentage of general Democrats who would be happy with the former vice president atop the ticket.
- O'Rourke fans would also be happy Sen. Kamala Harris, and Sen. Bernie Sanders is a particularly interesting rival. All told, two-thirds of the people who would be fine with O'Rourke as the nominee would also be satisfied with Sanders as the nominee. However, there was a strong aversion to Sanders among a cohort of O'Rourke's fans: A quarter of people who would be satisfied with O'Rourke as the nominee would not be satisfied with Sanders as the nominee, setting up an early intraparty ideological rivalry. In addition to those numbers, O'Rourke and Sanders are two of the most formidable fundraisers in the Democratic field, making them both top-tier candidates.
Insider has been conducting a recurring poll through SurveyMonkey Audience on a national sample to find out how different candidates' constituencies overlap. We ask people whether they are familiar with a candidate, whether they would be satisfied or unsatisfied with that candidate as the nominee, and we also sometimes ask whether they think that person would win or lose in a general election against President Donald Trump.
What are Beto O'Rourke's political positions?
- On healthcare:
- O'Rourke has explicitly supported a healthcare proposal entitled "Medicare for America." This plan would allow Americans to buy into Medicare, which is often dubbed "the public option."
- Unlike healthcare proposals from candidates such as Sanders and Harris who support "Medicare for All," this plan would allow Americans who are satisfied with their private- or employer-based health insurance to stay with their provider.
- On immigration:
- O'Rourke has called for tearing down existing border walls in the El Paso area of Texas.
- While Trump held a rally in El Paso just before O'Rourke announced his bid, the former Texas congressman held a march in protest.
- During that march, O'Rourke touted the city's low crime rate and dismissed the narrative of immigrant-related crime that Trump regularly elevates.
- "With the eyes of the country upon us, all of us together are going to make our stand here in one of the safest cities in America," O'Rourke said. "Safe not because of walls but in spite of walls."
- On climate change:
- O'Rourke has suggested that global climate change could prompt massive refugee crises around the planet.
- O'Rourke released a broad policy proposal for combatting climate change, which includes a $5 trillion investment to transform US infrastructure and help boost technological innovation.
- The plan also pledges to enact standards to bring emissions to net-zero by 2050.
- Grants for preempting natural disasters brought on by climate change.
- The former Texas congressman said at the September Democratic debate he would take action on the issue regardless of political blowback. "We will follow through, regardless of the political consequences or who it offends, because this is the very future of our planet and our ability for our children and grandchildren to be able to survive on it," O'Rourke said.
- On campaign finance:
- During his failed Senate run in Texas in the 2018 midterm elections, O'Rourke swore off donations from PACs and corporate donors. Despite this, he still accomplished massive fundraising hauls, which he has since replicated in the early weeks of his presidential campaign.
- On abortion:
- O'Rourke supports access to abortion.
- During a campaign stop, O'Rourke said abortion should be at the discretion of the mother, even in the case of late-term abortions.
- On LGBTQ rights:
- O'Rourke supports marriage equality, and has supported transgender Americans being allowed to serve in the US military.
- "Every time we've made our military more reflective of America, it's been made stronger," he wrote in a 2017 Facebook post criticizing the Trump administration. "Every time America has opened opportunities to those previously denied it, we've become stronger."
- O'Rourke's campaign plan includes an effort to make the asylum process easier for LGBTQ refugees, and establishes a special envoy for the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons at the State Department.
- Over the past few weeks, O'Rourke has been criticized on all sides for his recently-announced plan to take away the tax-exempt status of religious organizations, like churches, who refuse to perform same-sex marriages or otherwise discriminate against LGBTQ people.
- "There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us," O'Rourke said.
- On education:
- O'Rourke has supported revisions to the No Child Left Behind Act.
- He wants more financial aid to public schools in low-income neighborhoods.
- He has also pushed back on private- and charter-school vouchers.
- On Supreme Court and congressional issues:
- O'Rourke has called for expanding the number of Supreme Court justices, a common position among Democrats who are upset with the pace at which Republicans have confirmed judges and justices to roles with lifetime appointments over the past two years.
- O'Rourke has called for abolishing the Electoral College.
- He has said he believes in term limits for members of Congress.
- On guns:
- O'Rourke has called for banning the future sale of the AR-15, the most popular rifle in the US.
- He added that Americans who already own an AR-15 — of which there are already about 10 million, according to recent estimates — should "continue to use it responsibly and safely."
- At the September Democratic primary debate, O'Rourke said he would implement a mandatory buy-back program for assault-style rifles, which other candidates have criticized as gun confiscation. "Hell yes, we're going to take away your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore," he said.
- On criminal-justice reform:
- O'Rourke wants to end the prohibition on marijuana at the federal level and expunge past convictions for marijuana.
- He has said he would suspend the death penalty at the federal level as president but supported capital punishment by voting for the Thin Blue Line Act in 2017, which boosted prosecutors' ability to seek the death penalty in cases involving attacks on police and other law-enforcement officers.
- In a 2018 op-ed for the Houston Chronicle, O'Rourke called for abolishing private and for-profit prisons, ending mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes, and reforming the bail process.
- On trade:
- O'Rourke has spoken out against the Trump administration's practice of placing tariffs on the steel and aluminum industries, saying during a Texas Senate debate they will "devastate our state, businesses, and economy."
- He was a cosponsor on the Promoting US Jobs Through Exports Act of 2015, which sought to raise caps on outstanding loans and insurance for the Export-Import Bank.
- On foreign policy:
- O'Rourke supported the Iran nuclear deal from the Barack Obama administration. President Donald Trump has since departed from the deal.
- He called Trump's defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin at their summit in Helsinki "collusion in action" and has regularly called for taking a harsher stance toward Russian aggression.
- However, O'Rourke voted against a House resolution in 2014 that condemned Russian and Putin for carrying out "a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination."
- On taxes:
- O'Rourke voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which Republicans passed to lower taxes on individuals and corporations, and eliminate deductions, but it was not revenue-neutral.
What are Beto O'Rourke's political successes?
- He has been praised for his bipartisanship during his tenure in Congress. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life along with fellow Texas Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican.
- In 2013, O'Rourke authored a part of the 2013 appropriations bill that advanced tuition assistance for members of the US armed forces.
- O'Rourke was the driving force behind the Honor Our Commitment Act, which is now law. The law expands mental-health coverage at the Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans with "bad paper" discharges.
- Trump signed O'Rourke's Express Appeals Act into law in 2017. The law started a program at the Department of Veterans Affairs to streamline the appeals process for disability compensation.
- He is a prolific fundraiser and a sought-after commodity for Democrats looking to receive an endorsement in down-ballot races.
How much money has Beto O'Rourke raised?
In the first 24 hours of his campaign, O'Rourke raised $6.1 million from 128,000 different donations, averaging $48 per contribution. This easily cemented his placement in the first round of Democratic primary debates. In the second quarter of 2019, O'Rourke raised considerably less money. He raised $3.6 million in Q2 but still managed to surpass the 130,000 minimum donations for the fall debates.
O'Rourke's fundraising slightly improved in the third quarter between July 1 and September 30, when he brought it $4.5 million.
How is Beto O'Rourke viewed by voters compared to the competition?
INSIDER has conducted a number of other polls to check in on how these candidates are perceived in comparison to one another. When we asked respondents to one poll to rank how far to the left or to the right they considered the candidates, O'Rourke was generally considered to be in the middle of the pack of candidates in the field. O'Rourke is among the less experienced candidates int the field when we asked respondents to rank the candidates based on how prepared they are for the rigors of the presidency given what they knew about their history of public service and experience with government. And when asked how likable or personable respondents perceived the candidates to be, O'Rourke was in the top half of the crowd.
Could Beto O'Rourke beat President Trump?
Referring back to Insider's recurring poll, O'Rourke overall is believed to be a weaker candidate in a general election against Trump than your typical Democrat. While a majority of respondents were unsure how O'Rourke would fare in the general election, among those who said they were probably Democratic primary voters, about a fifth of people said they thought O'Rourke would win, which is slightly lower than the overall average for the Democrats we asked about. That's half his total earlier this year and a step in the wrong direction.
How do Democratic voters feel about Beto O'Rourke's qualifications?
INSIDER has conducted polling about how voters feel about candidate attributes or qualifications. We asked respondents about a list of possible qualifications and if they made them more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for president.
For example, among respondents who said they'd vote in the Democratic primary, 19% said a candidate being a college professor made them likelier to support them, while 4% said it made them less likely to, for a +15% net favorability. We can then see how different candidates' resumes stack up compared to those preferences.
Attributes perceived as most valuable include his released tax returns (+43%), position in the House of Representatives (+30%), that he is multi-lingual (+25%), age 50 or younger (+23%), and his Ivy league education (+7%).
Attributes considered to be a liability based on the preferences of self-reported Democratic voters include his past as a business owner (-11%) who grew up wealthy (-42%).
Read more of our stories on Beto O'Rourke:
- A Texas GOP lawmaker told Beto O'Rourke that his 'AR is ready for you' after the 2020 Democrat called for banning assault weapons
- 'You know the s--- he's been saying': Beto O'Rourke criticized the media's coverage of Trump in the wake of a mass shooting in El Paso
- Beto O'Rourke rejects Elizabeth Warren's plan to break up Amazon