Now that O’Rourke’s field-topping take is public, the establishment media ought to take a look in the mirror, but it is unlikely this will happen. Establishment media elites are part of the small faction of woke progressives trying to drive Democrats further left than the rank-and-file might otherwise go. This same bias caused them to believe Beto would pull out a victory against Ted Cruz. There clearly has been little reflection on their wishful thinking since the midterm elections. The only thing that has changed is the target, from Cruz to Beto, but always from the left.

More broadly, the past week is a reminder—timely, but always needed—that politics occurs far more in the real world than on social media and cable news. And on the campaign trail, O’Rourke seems to be getting a generally friendly hearing, if not the rapturous reception of his Texas rallies.

As Beto seems to be running as 2020’s “blank screen” candidate, his vagueness on policy occasionally annoys highly engaged Iowans. Yet his free-wheeling pronouncements may help him appeal to a broader segment of the Democratic electorate than candidates with a more consistent ideology.