US Presidential Election: Beto O'Rourke will run but Bernie still favourite

Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke
Beto O'Rourke at an anti-Trump protest

Considering a bet on Beto? Think O'Rourke is over-priced? Max Liu assesses the latest Democratic 2020 nominee odds as the Texan announces he's running for president in 2020.

"O'Rourke's excellent performance in the Texas senate race last year - he lost to incumbent Ted Cruz by only three points in the deeply Republican state - showed he's capable of rising to a challenge."

Beto O'Rourke is 5.59/2 to win the Democractic nomination for 2020 and 9.417/2 to be America's next president after he announced he was entering the race.

O'Rourke, who narrowly lost his battle for the senate in Texas at last year's midterm elections, enters the contest behind Bernie Sanders 4.94/1, Kamala Harris 5.14/1 and Joe Biden 5.24/1 in the betting.

O'Rourke earns comparisons to Obama '08

With at least 12 months of the campaign remaining, however, all is to play for. On Thursday, O'Rourke said he would run a positive campaign that "seeks to unite a very divided country."

O'Rourke will need to add some substance to that in the coming months but his confidence on the stump, and air of optimism, could be an asset as he bids to become the Democrat to take on Donald Trump next November.

If Americans are tired of the cynicism and sleaze of the Trump presidency then comparisons between O'Rourke in 2020 and Barack Obama in 2008 might not be fanciful. Obama presented himself as a refreshing break from the George W. Bush years and O'Rourke will try to emulate Obama's success in capturing hearts and minds on the campaign trail.

Can O'Rourke compete with experienced rivals?

It will not be easy for O'Rourke. Sanders has enjoyed a surge in support since announcing his candidacy and appears to have built on the momentum he achieved when running against Hillary Clinton for the 2016 nomination.

Harris is packing out auditoriums and delivering impressive speeches as she tries to secure support. She's putting her work in law enforcement front and centre of her campaign, which could stand her in good stead against Trump as the fall out from the Mueller investigation gets murkier.

Then, of course, there's Biden who served as Obama's vice president for eight years, is strong in debate and knows how to raise campaign funds. Mind you, the 76-year-old is yet to officially confirm he's running.

All three of these leading candidates will be tough opponents for O'Rourke. However, his excellent performance in the Texas senate race last year - he lost to the incumbent Ted Cruz by only three points in the deeply Republican state - showed that he's capable of rising to a challenge. Can O'Rourke compete with his more seasoned opponents? Yes he can.

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