O’Donnell Leads Castle in Only Poll

A Public Policy Survey poll taken over the weekend — apparently the only survey taken thus far — has eccentric Tea Party candidate Christine  O’Donnell leading Mike Castle 47-43 in the race for the Republican nomination for Delaware Senate contest that will be decided Tuesday.   PPP’s Tom Jensen titles his analysis “Too Close to Call in Delaware” but he goes where the snapshot takes him:

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.

GOP voters are pretty sharply divided about O’Donnell as well. 45% have a favorable opinion of her with 41% seeing her unfavorably. Only 50% of primary voters think she’s fit to hold public office but she does much better than Castle on the ideology front- 53% think she’s about right.

If O’Donnell pulls it out Tuesday night it will be a major victory for Delaware’s small but united group of Tea Party voters. Just 25% of Republicans in the state consider themselves to be members of that movement but they give her a 79-18 advantage that’s more than enough to overcome her 52-39 deficit with everyone else.

Josh Marshall sees a “Trainwreck A ‘Comin’” for the GOP.   And it’s hard to dispute that.    If PPP’s numbers are right, O’Donnell wins this thing.   And she’s completely unelectable outside the confines of a small turnout primary competition.

FILED UNDER: James Joyner, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Picks, Tea Party, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. […] James Joyner beat me to the punch in terms of the poll by a couple of minutes, but the post is as much about the […]


  2. Color me surprised. If there was one state where I thought the GOP would be largely immune from the effect of the Tea Party movement, it would be Delaware.


  3. sam says:

    Please, God, let that be an accurate poll.