Democrat Chris Coons holds a double-digit lead over Republican hopeful Christine O’Donnell in the first Rasmussen Reports post-primary survey of the U.S. Senate race in Delaware.
Coons earns 53% of the vote to O’Donnell’s 42%, with leaners included. One percent (1%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.
So, if this poll is right and Coons is above 50 percent, O'Donnell not only needs to overwhelmingly win those still undecided, she needs some Coons supporters to switch to her. A recent PPP poll, conducted prior to the election, showed O'Donnell trailing Coons 34 percent to 50 percent. At RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende writes nevertheless that O'Donnell's primary victory is "almost certainly the end of GOP prospects for this Senate seat."
If anything, the PPP (D) poll showing O'Donnell trailing New Castle County Executive Chris Coons by 16 points was only surprising because the lead was so small. After the divisive primary battle, the revelations about O'Donnell, and her lack of ideological synchronization with the state, one would expect Chris Coons to be able to climb above 50 percent in a state where 62 percent of the voters voted for President Obama in 2008.
Regardless, it is still difficult to imagine that this is Coons' high point. Some conservatives have emphasized that there were 57,000 voters in the Republican primary, far more than expected. This is true. But the 2008 Democratic primary for Governor drew 73,000 voters, and Joe Biden drew 257,539 votes in his 2008 victory over O'Donnell. Tom Carper got 170,567 in 2006. In other words, even if O'Donnell gets all of the Castle primary voters (a dubious proposition at best), she still has an awful lot of Independents to convince.
Conservatives also like to point to Joe Miller, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ken Buck, Pat Toomey, Sharron Angle, and Ron Johnson as examples of candidates who were derided by the establishment as too conservative, and whose nominations drew groans. First, let's remember that none of these candidates have won yet. Angle and Johnson are no better than 50-50 shots to win right now, and all of the rest, save Miller, are just now opening up significant advantages.
More importantly consider these numbers: 38, 41, 51, 54, 55, 55, 56. These represent, respectively, the vote shares for President Obama in each of the states in which the above candidates are running. In Delaware, he received 62 percent of the vote. And O'Donnell starts her race with much more baggage than any of these candidates, with the possible exception of Angle. In other words, O'Donnell is the weakest nominee of this group, running in the least hospitable state. It is not a powerful combination.
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