Monday, September 13, 2010

Upset in the Delaware Senate primary?

Oh my, the latest PPP poll on the GOP primary for Delaware gives Christine O'Donnell a 3 point lead over Mike Castle. The lead, it should be noted, is well within the margin of error:
It looks like there’s a real possibility of a major upset in the Delaware Senate primary on Tuesday night, with insurgent conservative Christine O’Donnell leading longtime Congressman and Governor Mike Castle 47-44. That 3 point lead is well within the poll’s margin of error.
If Castle is indeed defeated Tuesday night it will be yet another sign that conservatives have a strangle hold on the Republican Party and moderates may or may not be welcome anymore. Castle has an overwhelming 69-21 lead with moderate voters but they only make up 33% of the likely primary electorate. O’Donnell has a 62-31 lead with conservatives that’s more than enough to propel her to the overall lead.

It’s clear that Castle’s popularity has taken a sharp turn in the wrong direction over the last month. An August PPP poll found his favorability with Delaware Republicans at a 60/25 spread. Now his favorables within the party are negative at 43/47. That’s largely a product of 55% of voters in his party saying they think he’s too liberal compared to 37% who think he’s about right.

...General election Senate numbers we'll release later this week make it clear the biggest beneficiary of this primary becoming so unexpectedly hotly contested is Chris Coons. He would start out with a large advantage over O'Donnell in a general election match up, and is polling closer to Castle than he was when PPP polled Delaware last month.
Delaware Republicans have a tough choice ahead of them on Tuesday. As a wise professor suggested voters should vote for the candidate they prefer:
Prof. Stephen Bainbridge and Dan Riehl have been debating the Delaware Senate Republican primary, and whether it is worth electing "RINO" Mike Castle.  Bainbridge says yes, Riehl says no.

I don't know enough about Castle or Christine O'Donnell to weigh in on whether Castle is a RINO or O'Donnell is a true conservative -- but both Bainbridge and Riehl implicitly assume the point.  I also don't know about whether Castle is a sure thing in the general election, and O'Donnell a likely loser -- again, Bainbridge and Riehl implicitly assume the point (although Bainbridge more so than Riehl).

So, assuming Castle is a RINO yet significantly more likely to win in a general election, what to do?

I say, vote for the candidate you prefer, and let the electoral chips fall where they may.  That is so now more than ever.

The argument is that a Castle election may be the difference between Republican control of the Senate or not, assuming the tsunami happens.  So what?  So long as Republicans control the House (the much more likely scenario), further legislation implementing the Obama agenda is DOA with or without the Senate.
Meanwhile Jay Cost argues we will need every Senate seat we can get in order to repeal ObamaCare:
If you want to repeal Obamacare, leave Mike Castle alone.  Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Tea Party-backed Christine O’Donnell is going to make next week’s GOP Senate primary battle in Delaware an attention-grabber.
Republicans can peel back much of Obamacare through de-funding, but a full-blown repeal is probably going to require not only a new president, but a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
That is a possibility, though it won’t be easy.  The GOP is currently 19 seats short of a filibuster-proof majority, but this year polling averages suggest that the party is currently set to pick up 8 seats.   Then in 2012, scores of Democrats are up for reelection: in California, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. 
The GOP just cannot win some of these seats, e.g. Hawaii, but if the Republicans are strong enough to take the White House in 2012, they will probably be on the attack in many of these states.  I count 12 seats in states that either went for Bush in 2004 or for which Bush was campaigning heavily.  An R+5 year could tip many of these seats to the GOP.  So, it’s possible.
But this also means that every seat counts.  Mike Castle voted against ObamaCare, and he has co-sponsored the bill to repeal it.  Is he really worth going after?  A pickup of 19 seats in two years is a monumentally difficult task.  It seems to me that at a time when the party needs every seat it can get, Castle can get one.
Dan Riehl  points to Mike Castle's lobbyist problems while the Weekly Standard points to O'Donnell's troubled history in previous elections.   Having been convinced in the past I needed to hold my nose to vote for Arlen Specter when I found him way too Arlen Specterish, I am loathe to tell anyone they should vote for a candidate they disagree with.  I do, however, think there are reasons to be concerned about O'Donnell.

There are wars breaking out everywhere over the best way to vote in this election.  I wish this were not the case, we have way too much work ahead and I hate to see one election divide people who should really be working together.  I am inclined to let the Delaware Republican voters make the call here.  Whatever they decide on Tuesday night, I will rally behind the winner.

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