Delaware upset hurts Repubs’ Senate chances

The pundits can be wrong, but the commentariat is unanimous that yesterday’s surprising Repub Senate primary result in Delaware was a blow to the party’s already slim hopes of capturing majority control of the Senate this fall.

A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Mike Castle, a moderate Republican and a former governor, was rated as a prohibitive favorite to win not only the Repub nomination for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Joe Biden, but to win the general election as well. The anticipated pickup in Delaware was fairly vital to the Repub chances of the 10-seat gain Repubs need to control the Senate. But the Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell, a creationist who was endorsed by Sarah Palin and other leaders of the right, upset Castle in the primary.

The Democratic nominee Chris Coon, executive of the state’s biggest county, moved overnight from underdog to heavy favorite for November.

Pre-primary polling suggested that if Castle were the nominee, he would start the general election with a 45-35 percent lead over Coon, but that with O’Donnell on the ballot, the Democrat starts with a 50-34 percent lead. Stu Rothenberg immediately shifted the race from Leans Republican to Leans Democratic. Others who rate the Senate races will follow quickly.

Of course, other Tea Party and Palin-backed righties have won primaries this year, upsetting more establishment Republicans who were believed to be more electable. Rand Paul of Kentucky is a prominent case. And Paul is still running ahead in general election polling. Same thing for Palin favorite Joe Miller in Alaska and Mike Lee in Utah. But those are pretty solid red states. Delaware is a solid blue state, and the general view is that Castle was the only Republican who could deliver it.

Republican insiders concede that this damages their hopes of winning the Senate. Most analysts believe the Repubs are now favored to win control of the House. But the Senate was always going to be tougher because the Dems hold a large 40-23 majority of the seats that are not on the ballot this year.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/15/2010 - 12:27 pm.

    It will be very interesting to see what independents think of all this. In 2008 they obviously thought big government was the answer, but Obama has had almost 2 years to show them that’s not such a good idea. We’ll see how many of them have learned that lesson and are ready for some true austerity (not moderate GOP austerity).

    Winston Churchill once said that the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter. He was, unfortunately, 100% correct.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/15/2010 - 01:52 pm.

    No one ever believed the republicans would really take over the senate. Winning another seat or two will be sufficient.

    But what the Tea Party victories are doing is removing the RINOs from office, which in itself is the worthy mission of pruning the tree of deadwood.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/15/2010 - 03:16 pm.

    Not many people, Democrats OR Republicans OR Tea Partiers, are prepared for true austerity. Ariana Huffington may be on to something after all – if we play our cards right, we, too, can become a third-world country.

    Not being a party loyalist, I’m not so much enamored of “big” government as I am “effective” government, which sometimes is big, sometimes not. If you start with the assumption that government is evil, and its employees criminals to varying degrees, which seems to be the view of many a person wearing a colonial hat or waving the Constitution lately, it’s going to be very difficult to recruit people of any skill or knowledge to serve in government at all. I look forward to seeing those that regard that prospect as a good thing paving their own roads, inspecting their own food, testing their own drinking water, and especially, negotiating with their corporate robber baron boss over just how much they’ll be paid before their job is shipped overseas.

    Indeed, it may, in fact, be a good thing that RINOs are driven from the Republican Party. That way, instead of having a few reasonable people to shield the party from well-earned scorn and laughter, the loonies will be right out in the open for all to see. That Republican organizations generally have more money than their opponents may well translate this election cycle into something no more useful than more expensive suicide.

  4. Submitted by Stephan Flister on 09/15/2010 - 04:03 pm.

    Ray (#3) says “Democrats OR Republicans OR Tea Partiers”

    Tea Partiers are Republicans, so I suggest you should have just two categories in your statement; maybe something like “Democrats OR Republicans, including those Republicans who call themselves Tea Partiers,…”

    Otherwise, your statement reads like “oranges, apples, and rotten apples”.

  5. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/16/2010 - 08:34 am.

    Sarah Palin was probably a drag on the Repub ticket in 2008 – perceived as lackin g the capability for high office. Now the Repubs get O’Donnell who makes Palin look like George Washington.

  6. Submitted by John E Iacono on 09/16/2010 - 12:43 pm.

    //”If you start with the assumption that government is evil, and its employees criminals to varying degrees,”

    I have yet to meet such a person, though those who are negatively impressed with the work ethic of government employees at nearly all levels do seem to be numerous. It is tiresome to hear, over and over again, from public servants who have failed to perform their assigned tasks, that the problem is that they “need more staff” or “need more resources,” as an excuse.

    Admitting of no REASONABLE alternative except the perfection of the status quo, with all demands for revenue implied, seems to me unreasonable.

  7. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/17/2010 - 10:07 pm.

    Ray is on to something here. This might be a short ascendancy that feels like a long one.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/18/2010 - 11:53 am.

    //It is tiresome to hear, over and over again, from public servants who have failed to perform their assigned tasks, that the problem is that they “need more staff” or “need more resources,” as an excuse.

    Yes, magic plan economics and small governments require magic workers who can accomplish anything regardless of personnel or resources. It’s simply a vicious cycle whereby you deny sufficient resources, complain about failure, and then use that failure as an excuse to cut resources even more. There’s no effort to actually evaluate government, any explanations related to insufficient resources and funding are just rejected out of hand. This is easily identified as dogmatic adherence to ideology because aside from military spending for the most part, there is never any justification for addition resources or spending, only cuts in resources and spending.

    John, you’re flirting disenginuity when you claim not to know anyone who thinks government is evil. Elsewhere you yourself have referred to government as a “beast” that demands constant feeding. It’s hard to imagine such a beast that does not qualify as evil as it is commonly understood.

    This goes back to Ronald Reagan’s declaration that government is the problem not the solution. Tea Partyers’ clearly see government as an enemy, not an ally in any effort to make good public policy. Typically people demonize an enemy, and you see figures like Bachmann and Emmer demonizing government all the time.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/18/2010 - 11:56 am.

    It was kind of interesting to listen to the BBC after the primaries. They and their US commentators clearly saw the Tea Party victories as a blow to the Republican party. The story was how this lurch towards extremism is some quarters would further alienate the party from the American electorate. Has anyone seen Bachmann vs. Clark polls lately?

  10. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 09/19/2010 - 01:25 am.

    As long as the supposed threshold for Senate approval of any legislation has to be “filibuster-proof” or more precisely “threat of filibuster proof” at 60 votes, it is irrelevant what happens to the Senate in the November election. There are enough “Blue Dog” DINOs in the Senate to make sure of that.

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