(Typographical errors were corrected at 08:26ET on October 26, 2018)
Beto has a posse (in the informal use of the word). The Beto groupies have created a problem for both Beto and Ted Cruz. What? A problem for both! Yup, a problem for both. First, let’s understand the Beto fan club. It has been dubbed the “Beto mania”. It’s much more than a ground game designed to mobilize voters and it uses social media as one of its primary channels. It has been so effective that FoxNews is freaking out about it. FoxNews has gone so far as to label it the “Beto O’Rourke fandom.” (Schallhorn, Kaitland; October 25, 2018; Fox News)
Fandom, for those not into fantasy or science fiction television, is a subculture composed around a common interest, in this case – Beto O’Rourke.
Beto is using Facebook to effectively engage his posse.
According FoxNews, this video was not paid for by the Beto Campaign. It was paid for by Hussein Marouf, a Beto fan.
This wall was created by another fan, Chris Rogers.
This other video was created by a group of Beto fans.
It is this posse that is driving Cruz and the Republicans crazy.
Now that you see how the Beto posse has mobilized beyond traditional political movements we can now look to see why it’s a problem for Beto, and for Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz is obvious as his seat is suddenly in play in the “red state” of Texas. Cruz, and the Republicans have no strategy to combat a social media fueled mobilization of unlikely voters. They are unlikely voters because, although energized, the young voters have a tendency not to vote. If they come out to vote this election cycle with the same energy than the GOP will be in trouble and Ted Cruz will be put to pasture.
But, that is a big “if” because young people don’t have a history of voting.
Which gets us to the problem for Beto O’Rourke.
It’s actually only a problem for Beto, if he wins. If Beto loses, then he has his posse base to mount a national campaign for president, which was the original plan. In two years, the Beto Campaign would have time to turn the mobilized posse into national ambassadors getting voters to the polls.
But, if Beto were to win the Senate seat, it creates two problems for him. The first is that Beto would have to focus on Senate work and not have the time to continue developing his national presidential persona. However, the Senate seat would give him a higher national profile and a pulpit to use for his political ambitions.
But, Beto would have to create a legislative record that would haunt him in a future election. Currently, Beto can play both sides by not having a significant legislative record that he needs to defend. Sitting out controversial Senate votes would be detrimental to him. Casting votes on controversial legislation, such as immigration and impeachment, would alienate voters. It would also put an uncomfortable spot light on his activities.
The best outcome for Beto is to lose the Senate seat allowing him to focus on continuing to mobilize his posse for his White House ambitions, and that of his father in law’s.