U.S. Senate Primary – Political Pundits Panic: Christine O’Donnell (R-DE) Takes the Lead by Gregory Hilton

48 hours before Delaware Republicans go to the polls, Christine O'Donnell has pulled into the lead in the Republican Senate primary.

A Public Policy Polling survey released on Sunday night indicates a major upset is possible in Delaware’s U.S. Senate primary on Tuesday. The survey has conservative Christine O’Donnell defeating moderate Rep. Mike Castle in the primary by a 47% to 44% margin. Castle has a 69% to 21% lead with moderate voters but they only make up 33% of the likely primary electorate. O’Donnell has a 62% to 31% lead with conservatives which is more than enough to propel her to victory in less than 48 hours.

The O’Donnell surge was a shock to political pundits in both parties, and their reactions are listed below. Practically all of them agree that while O’Donnell could win on Tuesday it would be difficult for her to win a general election. She has such a controversial background that Democrats would not have a difficult time increasing her negative ratings. The recent O’Donnell surge was fueled by the endorsements she just received from Sarah Palin, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and the National Rifle Association. Castle is probably the most liberal Republican Senate candidate this year, and the major strike against him his vote for cap and trade. Castle opposed the Stimulus and is in favor of repealing Obamacare.

Public Policy Polling (PPP):

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 (D). 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.

The liberal website Democratic Underground:

If Christine O’Donnell wins, then she will lose the general election and we will get the Senate seat. (If Mike Castle wins, he will win the general, as he has run 9 times statewide for Governor and the House and never lost.)Mike Castle is running 11 points ahead of Chris Coons (D). But if O’Donnell wins the primary, she runs 11 points BEHIND Chris Coons. “Castle is still favored to win. But if O’Donnell wins, our path to keeping the Senate (and in particular a Delaware Senate seat) just got a whole lot easier.Demint once said: “I’d rather have 30 Marco Rubios in the Senate than 60 Arlen Specters.” Let’s hope he gets his wish.

Mark Hemingway, the Washington Examiner:

William F. Buckley, the godfather of the modern conservative movement, had some simple advice for what to do on Election Day: Vote for the most conservative candidate that is electable. . . And unfortunately, the issue of O’Donnell’s electability goes way beyond polls. She’s run an erratic and dishonest campaign. When she visited The Examiner offices a few weeks ago, she tried to show me an old poll that had her leading the race. When asked about a more recent poll showing her losing big, she accused the pollster of dishonesty when there was nothing wrong with the poll.
Shortly after her interview with The Examiner, former O’Donnell campaign aides posted an Internet video baselessly alleging that Castle had a gay affair. She rebuked those rumors, but then on radio called Castle “unmanly” and suggested he put his “man pants” back on. Subtle. . . Castle may be a liberal Republican, but that’s better than a liberal Democrat. True, Castle has in the past supported cap and trade and other legislation that makes conservatives wince. But he’s also a co-sponsor of the bill to repeal Obamacare. Good luck getting a Democratic senator from Delaware to sign on to that.

Gail Collins in The New York Times:

One of the most notable things on her political résumé is her well-publicized position against masturbation. (“The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can’t masturbate without lust.”). She says looking at porn is equivalent to adultery. O’Donnell has had a series of financial problems, and her disclosure form says she earned only $5,800 last year, although she claims she had other income that didn’t require disclosing. She said for years that she was a 1993 graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, but it turns out she actually got her degree … last week. And a conservative radio host was compelled to correct her when she claimed that she had won two counties in a 2008 race against Senator Joe Biden. That would have been quite a trick, given that Delaware has only three counties and she lost the election by 65 percent to 35 percent.

Former Judge Bill Lee (R-DE), two time gubernatorial candidate:

Everybody sort of tolerated Christine and now she’s become a target. She was best as a clandestine candidate. Basically I think the national publicity has exposed her. She probably had a better shot before the Tea Party people got in. Now the whole nation has focused on her shortcomings. . . It was embarrassing. She really is delusional. I really didn’t want to be on her team after a couple of those things.

The Weekly Standard:

Court documents obtained Saturday by The Weekly Standard reveal surprising new details about the gender discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Christine O’Donnell in 2005 against her former employer, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative non-profit based in Delaware. O’Donnell, who is now challenging moderate congressman Mike Castle in the September 14 Delaware GOP Senate primary, sought $6.95 million in damages. In a court complaint, she extensively detailed the “mental anguish” she suffered after allegedly being demoted and fired because of her gender. And, although she didn’t have a bachelor’s degree until this year, O’Donnell implied she was taking master’s degree classes at Princeton University in 2003.

Daniel Foster in National Review:

O’Donnell’s finances, honesty, and stability have been called into question in light of her false and strange claims. The court complaint raises further questions on all fronts. O’Donnell, who made an annual salary of $65,000 at ISI as director of communications and public affairs, sought up to $6,952,477 million in damages, claiming, among other allegations, that ISI had defamed her and had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The GOP website Red State:

Its very simple. If you want to see large enough majorities in Congress to override an Obama veto on ObamaCare repeal, Mike Castle is your man. If you want to embarrass the Obama Administration by winning the Vice President’s Senate seat, Mike Castle is your man. If you don’t care if ObamaCare is repealed, Christine O’Donnell is your girl. If you want the Administration to be opening champagne bottles November 3rd, knowing they held on to Biden’s seat, then Christine O’Donnell is your girl.
I also want to ask what happened to everyone who was so appalled at Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer’s (R-SC) campaign for Governor. He started calling State Rep. Nikki Haley a whore, and falsely accusing her of affairs. Now, Christine O’Donnell is falsely accusing Mike Castle of having a gay affair, and everyone ignores it. I just find that crazy.

Conservative blogger Rick Moran:

O’Donnell is a tea party darling despite the fact that she has the ethics of an alley cat and the brains of a mouse. She is a fatally flawed candidate in so many ways that it is not even a question of supporting a RINO like Castle vs. a “true” conservative like O’Donnell. Rather, it is a question of opposing a paranoid, deadbeat, lightweight who has pulled some personal and professional financial shenanigans that would disqualify her from not only holding public office, but also being employed as a responsible manager at any legitimate company.
In a radio interview last June, she lied about not having a federal tax lien on her house despite the fact that anyone with a modest ability at using search engines could find it. . . I would not employ a person of such low character if I owned a company. And the fact that “real” conservatives want to send this tax avoiding, deadbeat liar to Washington who stiffs her employees out of their rightful wages, paints herself as the victim of dirty tricks when it is her own flawed character that is the cause of her miseries, and represents exactly the sense of entitlement and greed that they purport to oppose, shows that the ideologues care less about the integrity of our representatives than they do the purity of their beliefs.

Doug Mataconis of Outside The Beltway:

Delaware Republicans ought to think long and hard about Christine O’Donnell before they go vote. Otherwise, they could be throwing out an opportunity to win a Senate seat by backing a candidate who appears to be nothing more than a gadfly.

GOP consultant Don Mell:

For O’Donnell supporters this is “like the L.A. riots. Burning your own house down is not the answer to the question. And that’s what these people are doing.”

Ari Fantis, 25, a law student at New York University:

If we get a Republican Senator in Delaware who votes with us 70-80% of time, its way better than a Democrat who votes with us 5% of the time. . . That is why I supported Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), why I’m supporting Mike Castle (R-DE) and Rep. Mark Kirk’s (R-IL) Senate campaign in Illinois, we need to have Republicans in blue states who vote with us 80% of the time.

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