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How Christine O’Donnell Delivered A Near Fatal Blow To The Delaware GOP

Over at FrumForum, Noah Kristula-Green writes about a little talked about consequence of Christine O’Donnnell’s divisive, and massively defeated, Senate for the statewide Republican Party:

O’Donnell had a consistently negative effect on the close down-ticket races in Delaware. Republican Party officials in the state who spoke to FrumForum on and off the record expressed great frustration with the damage she caused. O’Donnell did this in several different ways. She cost the GOP several candidates in the Delaware State House, giving the Democrats a super-majority. She hurt the campaign for the Republican nominee for State Treasurer. She boosted a Democratic party which has been growing stronger in the state, and solidified in the minds of many voters the view that the Republican party was an atavistic and unserious party, which the mainstream had rejected. In a year when Republicans had a wave to take advantage of and the opportunity to grow across the entire country, O’Donnell failed her party and brought it down.

The details are pretty, pretty grim:

The election results show several close Delaware State House races where Democrats won by incredibly small margins. Not only were the percentages that separated these races very small, they were also small in absolute terms. The closeness of these races speaks to the success of the Democrats’ get out the vote efforts, which were driven largely by motivating voters against O’Donnell.

There were seven State House races where the Democrat won by less than than 1,000 votes. In three of those races, the Republican candidate had been recruited to take on a Democratic incumbent. The power of incumbency is hard to defeat in any election cycle, and a wave election is a rare chance to counter it.  Yet in the races for the 6th, 9th, 10th, 14th, 18th, 32nd, and 41st districts, the GOP candidate lost. The vote margins were very small: 407, 282, 734, 879, 438, 296, and 939 votes respectively.  (The race for the 7th was also close, decided by 1,364 votes.)

Many of the candidates who were recruited to run in this cycle did so with the expectation that Mike Castle would be on the top of the ticket. Not only did the Republicans have a weak candidate on the top of the ticket, Democrats (and independents) were given more motivation to vote against O’Donnell and the entire GOP ticket. Neither Chris Coons nor any of the other Democrats on the ticket were considered exceptionally inspiring among the Democrats. One Republican told FrumForum: “There really was no motivation for Democrats to vote in this election until the O’Donnell thing happened.”

In a year when Republicans made gains in state legislatures across the country, the Republican caucus in Delaware’s State House got smaller, going from 17 Republicans to 15. This has given the Democrats a super-majority in the State House. They can now write revenue related bills without the Republicans if they choose.

Delaware is a Blue State and it’s likely to be one for a long time, but there was a time when it did produce Republicans who were capable of winning statewide. Not just Mike Castle, but guys like William Roth and Pete duPont. Thanks to the damage that the party suffered in 2010, it’s going to be a long time before Delaware produces a candidate like that again.

The point here isn’t to kick Christine O’Donnell yet again, but to point out that there are consequences to nominating a candidate who has no realistic chance of winning a General Election. Not only do you lose the race itself, but you hurt your party in down ticket races.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    “…expressed great frustration with the damage she caused.”

    This is a load of crap!!! The dumb republicans damaged their own cause to the extent that a candidate such as Christine O’Donnell could easily win a primary challenge to the pathetic candidate that the republicans decided to promote.

    It’s always easier to blame others for your own failures and these whiners are no different.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Boyd says:

    The point here isn’t to kick Christine O’Donnell yet again, but to point out that there are consequences to nominating a candidate who has no realistic chance of winning a General Election.

    Exactly. Christine O’Donnell didn’t become someone different after she won the Republican nomination. The person who the majority of those voting in the Republican primary chose is the same person who ran in the General Election.

    If anyone is looking for someone to blame, it’s the Republican Party of Delaware.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Boyd says:

    Gah! “…whom the majority…”

    I’m usually a better editor than that.

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  4. mantis says:

    This is a load of crap!!! The dumb republicans damaged their own cause to the extent that a candidate such as Christine O’Donnell could easily win a primary challenge to the pathetic candidate that the republicans decided to promote.

    Mike Castle is a pathetic candidate? He won Delaware’s sole House seat (a statewide election) something like nine times in a row, and before that was the state’s governor and Lt. governor. Castle is exactly the type of Republican who can win in blue Delaware, and he would have cleaned up in the general had the teabagging primary voters not decided they wanted the crazy grifter lady (I’m sensing a trend….) instead.

    Blaming Castle or Delaware Republicans who supported him is like blaming the Olympic for the sinking of the Titanic.

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  5. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    ” Castle is exactly the type of Republican who can win in blue Delaware…”

    As I recall, he lost his election.

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  6. john personna says:

    Still better to see it as a “Tea Party Jumps The Shark” moment. Yeah, the Delaware Republicans got swept up and voted for her in the primary … and they found out that voting for “someone like you” could get out of hand.

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  7. mantis says:

    As I recall, he lost his election.

    He lost the primary, but almost assuredly would have won the general election. I notice you omit the rest of my sentence, where I said “he would have cleaned up in the general.” Had the teabaggers voted for someone electable, they would have had another Republican senate pickup. Instead, they voted for the crazy grifter lady, ensuring that the seat would stay blue, and harming downticket races, as is the point of this post.

    Got anything else clever to say?

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  8. Terrye says:

    Patrick:

    Castle lost the primary, but he had won something like a dozen state wide races. This is Delaware we are talking about and the idea is to run someone that the voters feel represents them.

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  9. Terrye says:

    mantis:

    I am not a fan of Christine O’Donnell but one of the reasons she could win that primary was that people like you insisted on using derogatory terms like teabaggers to insult an entire movement. The truth is as there are so many loons and grifters and demagogues on the left that more and more Americans don’t want to even call themselves Democrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  10. wr says:

    You mean people in Delaware were so offended that Tea Partiers were called mean names that they went out and voted for a woman they could tell was a complete moron just to show us nasty people?

    Boy, you guys sure take governing seriously…

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  11. […] How Christine O'Donnell Delivered A Near Fatal Blow To The … Share and […]

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  12. narciso says:

    Seeing that Republicans had only gained 1,000 voters, while the Democrats, gained 71,000,
    the narrow margins would indicate the reverse, unless there had been some huge surge of votes in 2006 and 2008.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. An Interested Party says:

    “…but to point out that there are consequences to nominating a candidate who has no realistic chance of winning a General Election.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Doug was also using this statement to make a reference to another lady of the GOP…

    “I am not a fan of Christine O’Donnell but one of the reasons she could win that primary was that people like you insisted on using derogatory terms like teabaggers to insult an entire movement.”

    Considering how you have talked about the people of “the left”, you are hardly in a position to be expressing any kind of non-hypocritical outrage at this…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Franklin says:

    But she’s sort of cute and provides hours of entertainment, so there’s that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Drew says:

    Odonnell has received so much attention. Its silly. Resolved: she’s a dolt and embarrassment. So was Robert Byrd. (among other Dems) But we see nary a comment or musing about destroying W Virginia’s Dem party anywhere.

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  16. Loadmaster says:

    Most of these post have gotten this right. The Delaware GOP blew this big time. I have written the RNC to investigate the Del GOP for supporting candidates (Castle) during a Primary. Which is NO NO per the By-laws. I have asked the RNC tro pull their credentials. The Delaware’s GOP behavior during and after the Primary was shameful. The Chairman should have already been fired/replaced. If this had happen in TN…all hell would have been let loose. You just don’t do this during any primary.

    Bottom line is the Delaware GOP acted like children who didn’t get their way. To the Chairman – Man UP and resign.

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  17. mantis says:

    I am not a fan of Christine O’Donnell but one of the reasons she could win that primary was that people like you insisted on using derogatory terms like teabaggers to insult an entire movement.

    Delaware Republicans voted for O’Donnell over Mike Castle because of liberals like me? How does that work? I’m glad they nominated her, as it gave a seat to the Democrats. As for the use of “derogatory terms like teabaggers,” I’m only referencing what many Tea Party folks called themselves early on, often adorning themselves and their signs with tea bags. How is that derogatory?

    The truth is as there are so many loons and grifters and demagogues on the left that more and more Americans don’t want to even call themselves Democrats.

    How amusing. You complain about people insulting an entire movement? Pot. Kettle.

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  18. mantis says:

    Should have written “as it let Democrats keep a seat.”

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  19. wr says:

    Robert Byrd is like Christine O’Donnell? The longest serving senator in history (I believe) is somehow the same as a moron TV chat host who couldn’t win a single election to anything?

    Ah, to be a TeaBagger and not be concerned with a single piece of information…

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  20. mantis says:

    Odonnell has received so much attention. Its silly. Resolved: she’s a dolt and embarrassment. So was Robert Byrd. (among other Dems) But we see nary a comment or musing about destroying W Virginia’s Dem party anywhere.

    Byrd won elections, and a Democrat was elected to replace him. O’Donnell drove voters away from her party during a wave election year and hurt downticket Republicans. That’s why you don’t see anyone talking about them in the same way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. […] Doug Mataconis: Delaware is a Blue State and it’s likely to be one for a long time, but there was a time when it did produce Republicans who were capable of winning statewide. Not just Mike Castle, but guys like William Roth and Pete duPont. Thanks to the damage that the party suffered in 2010, it’s going to be a long time before Delaware produces a candidate like that again. […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Terrye says:

    mantis:

    I never said they voted for O’Donnell because of you, in fact not all Delaware Republicans are even Tea Party people. I said using idiotic and juvenile sexual slurs to attack an entire movement that went way and beyond Delaware made a lot of the Tea Party people think folks like you were just jerks who hated them…so why bother to listen to that crap? That is the point. If you were not so full of yourself you would see it..if you want to know who to blame for the Tea Party, look in the mirror. Arrogant self satisfied people on the left are as responsible for the emergence of this movement as anyone on the right.

    As for Pot Kettle…calling people teabaggers is an in the face insult…to do it and then expect to be treated with respect is another example of Pot Kettle.

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  23. john personna says:

    I really think that tea partiers should never have accepted teabagger as a derogatory term. They were mailing tea bags to congress in protest. Some were even using the term. Then some leftist sicko said “you know what that means?”

    The right answer was “someone who protests excess tax.”

    To anything else say “you’re sick, get out of here.”

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  24. mantis says:

    I never said they voted for O’Donnell because of you

    Not me specifically, but people who aren’t nice to tea partiers. In other words…me.

    I said using idiotic and juvenile sexual slurs to attack an entire movement that went way and beyond Delaware made a lot of the Tea Party people think folks like you were just jerks who hated them…so why bother to listen to that crap?

    So that’s why they didn’t vote for Mike Castle in the primary? Because they didn’t want to listen to insults? How does that work?

    If you were not so full of yourself you would see it..if you want to know who to blame for the Tea Party, look in the mirror.

    Really? The tea party movement exists because I’m not a nice guy? Gee, they keep telling us they have coherent policy stances, but I guess it’s all just spite. Thanks for clearing that up.

    calling people teabaggers is an in the face insult

    Tell the teabaggers who called themselves that, and adorned themselves with teabags. Were they insulting themselves?

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  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***The truth is as there are so many loons and grifters and demagogues on the left that more and more Americans don’t want to even call themselves Democrats.*** But this is the truth, not smear….

    ***Robert Byrd is like Christine O’Donnell? The longest serving senator in history (I believe) is somehow the same as a moron TV chat host who couldn’t win a single election to anything?***

    lol, Bird was a malignant peace of $hit.

    TERM LIMITS NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  26. wr says:

    Thank you, GA, for your typically articulate, well-reasoned argument. Your powers of reason are surpassed only by your spelling, grammar, and typing.

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