Beginning with the 2016 presidential election, CNN has hosted televised town halls with presidential hopefuls. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Tex., will make his television town hall debut 9 p.m. Tuesday at Drake University in Des Moines on CNN.
O’Rourke will join more than a dozen of his fellow Democratic contenders in having gone on the network for town halls. Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., had her own CNN town hall in January at Drake.
Having faced criticism for running his campaign with a perceived lack of substance on policy issues, three weeks ago O’Rourke released a proposal to spend $5 trillion to fight climate change. The plan calls for the United States to be a net-zero emitter of carbon by 2050.
These town halls provide an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves to a national audience and potentially break out of the crowded pack of Democratic candidates polling in the single digits.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat of South Bend, Ind., got his chance to do so with his own CNN town hall in April. In the wake of his appearance, Buttigieg rose an average of 7% in national polls of the Democratic primary.
O’Rourke, however, starts in a different situation than Buttigieg was in polling. Before his CNN town hall, Buttigieg had a national name recognition of roughly 20%. It stands at 67% today. In the latest public poll measuring name recognition, O’Rourke stands at 75% nationally, with far less room to grow and introduce himself to Americans.
In the latest publicly available poll, O’Rourke has the support of 5% of likely Iowa caucus goers, putting him in sixth place in the state.