Christine O’Donnell’s primary win will have a negative effect on Delaware’s struggling Republican Party on several fronts.
First, Ms. O’Donnell’s reputation as somewhat of a joke among GOP political operatives in the state had them actively campaigning against her during the run-up to the September 14th primary ballot. As one operative said, “If she loses, she’ll have to leave the state.”
That didn’t happen and had a number of the state’s minority GOP looking for a way out – they tried to get Representative Mike Castle to run as a write-in candidate, much like Senator Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. Online responses in several venues to this idea were overwhelmingly negative, much like response to Senator Murkowski’s move by upper-echelon GOP operatives expressing themselves in places like Fox News at the Washington Times.
At the last moment, Castle issued a statement ending any hope his supporters and GOP O’Donnell detractors might have had about a three-way race in the First State. Polling showed a Castle write-in campaign splitting the anti-O’Donnell vote, but still showed O’Donnell losing in the General Election. The most recent polls also show O’Donnell behind double-digits as the run-up to November 2nd continues.
As for Republican aspirations to gain a majority in the U.S. Senate, poll numbers out the first week of October still don’t show the GOP has “sealed the deal” with voters on that account, despite hopeful noises coming from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others in the GOP leadership. Others, including Karl Rove – at least on election night – said they thought O’Donnell’s victory on September 14th meant the Republican Party had essentially lost its c chance of gaining a majority in the Senate because they felt certain she’d lose on Nov ember 2nd, and polling numbers seem to bear that out, with a series of polls showing Democratic candidate Chris Coons widening his – again – double-digit lead over O’Donnell.
Add one more thing to that – it took some 30,000 Republican voters to give O’Donnell the primary win. It will take considerably more than that for her to defeat a Democrat for a traditionally Democrat-held seat in a traditionally Democrat-dominated state.
O’Donnell has always felt comfortable in majority conservative Sussex County and Delaware’s south, but she’ll need to win in Wilmington to take the seat, and that’s Coons’ country and a tough obstacle to overcome – withcraft or no.