The Delaware Senate Race and the State of the GOP

Some thoughts on the Delware Senate race and the state of the GOP.

Note: 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 general state of the GOP and the Tea Party as it is the actual poll.

According to the latest PPP poll, it’s Too Close to Call in Delaware:

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.

The full poll is here:  PDF.

This will make for an interesting night tomorrow.  As expected, PPP is indicating that should O’Donnell win that the Democratic candidate, Chris Coons, will be the primary beneficiary:

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. 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.

It will be interesting to see how the current intraparty fight within the Republican Party plays out going forward, especially into the next election cycle.  Specifically, it will be interesting to see if the success that the Tea Party faction has had within primary contests will fuel their enthusiasm going into 2012, or if there will be any backlash.

Of course, much will depend on what the ultimate slate of candidates looks like and how they perform in November.  Still, one can’t help but look at some of these contests, first in Nevada and now, perhaps, in Delaware and not see a situation in which the national GOP’s ability to win the Senate is being compromised by specific factions of the party within the nomination process at the local level.

What is also striking is that the faction in question lacks a truly reformative impulse beyond an inchoate discontent with the federal government and/or a vague claim of being more “conservative” than the “establishment” (which is, if you think about it, a fairly amusing juxtaposition).  In other words, apart from being a clear expression of unhappiness with the status quo, it is utterly unclear as to what the Tea Party faction actually wants to accomplish.  Although in that regard they have more in common with the mainline Republican Party than either faction might care to admit.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. D.C. Russell says:

    What does the traditional Republican “leadership” want to accomplish?  When I go to the polls tomorrow, my Republican primary ballot will have a grand total of ONE GOP candidate running in 14 partisan local and legislative races.
    NO REPUBLICANS are running for county executive, sheriff, county council, state senate, house of delegates, etc.  And even though the election is suppose to include the selection of party central committee members, there is NO REPUBLICAN running for Republican central committee in my district.
    In an adjoining district, the incumbent Democrat has been indicted on 18 federal felony charges.   But he has NO REPUBLICAN opposition either.
    The Republican “leadership” certainly can’t accomplish anything if it doesn’t even try.
    My inclination is to vote for the Tea Party candidate for statewide office because the traditional Republican “leadership” and their candidates have totally abandoned me.

  2. The Republican “leadership” can’t force people to make themselves sacrificial lambs in races they have no chance of winning.

  3. steve says:

    I think it would be great to vote for someone who will try to crack down on masturbation.


  4. ponce says:

    First the Revolution, then the excesses and finally, the guillotine.
    The only question is, who plays Danton and Robespierre?

  5. sam says:

    “The only question is, who plays Danton and Robespierre?”
    I think they’ll skip all that and go straight to Marat/Sade.