A Tea Party in Delaware: Castle and O'Donnell Tied in Latest PPP Poll

Looks like there might be some tea served in Delaware this Tuesday, as Mike Castle and Christine O'Donnell are virtually tied, with O'Donnell even maintaining a slim lead that is 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.

After a week in which Castle and a number of conservative media figures have absolutely trashed O'Donnell, that's a pretty remarkable result. But, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise. We've seen these sorts of media frenzies a lot in the last couple years: a conservative woman gains some prominence and immediately comes under sustained assault from people who hadn't heard about her the week before, but are now convinced that She Must Be Stopped. The media assured us that Sarah Palin was stupid, that Nikki Haley was a whore, that Sharon Angle is crazy, and that Jan Brewer was a redneck. None of that was remotely true. Why should it be true for O'Donnell?

For his part, Castle has hardly fought this election with any sort of honor or courage. He has refused to debate O'Donnell, for one thing. While O'Donnell has made media appearances that could be described as Palinesque, she has at least made an effort. Castle doesn't appear to have done any media, whether favorable or unfavorable. He was dumb enough to join in an FEC complaint against O'Donnell and the Tea Party Express. And, while everyone else has been throwing themselves on their fainting couches over O'Donnell's finances and dopey lawsuits, Castle has spent his many decades in Congress quietly proposing bills at the behest of his money men. Is Castle willing to stand still long enough to discuss that?

Mostly, though, Castle's the sort of person who has enabled the creeping growth of government over the last 30 years. He may not have voted for Obamacare, but his support for repeal is tepid at best. Like many of this year's troubled GOP moderates, he voted for TARP. His has been a career tacking and trimming with the political winds, all with the goal, it seems, of running for Senate at the ripe old age of 71. Is this the sort of person who would have the stones for the sort of political fighting that lies ahead as the GOP and the Tea Party seek to roll back the entitlement state? Doubtful.

Castle is a careerist and all of his acts in public life have been made with career in mind. This is best summed up in this Jeffrey Lord piece:
It must be said here that the reason Ms. O'Donnell is a "two-time loser" is that she had the guts to take on up-hill Senate races in the first place. Where was Mike Castle when it was time to challenge Democrat incumbent Senator Tom Carper in 2006? Where was Castle when it was time to challenge Biden in 2008 -- when Biden was playing the Ruling Class game and had a ballot spot for both re-election to the Senate and on Obama's ticket as vice president? Answer? Not running. Why? Because the man who so much wants to be a United States Senator from Delaware didn't want to mar his reputation with a loss -- thus enabling some Ruling Class writer to describe Castle as a "two-time statewide loser." Such things are important in Ruling Class circles, and the fact that O'Donnell paid no heed and took on Delaware's political goliaths Carper and Biden anyway is a sign of Country Class guts.
O'Donnell may lack Castle's political savvy. She may try too hard and say the "wrong" thing when she's speaking off the cuff. Her finances may be in disarray. It may well be that she is too conservative to win in Delaware. But, you know what? She didn't vote for TARP and she hasn't acted like a Delaware Senate seat is something she should be handed because she's "next." A vote for Castle is a vote for careerism. A vote for O'Donnell is at least a vote for ideas.

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