The “smart people” have apparently decided that no one is going to vote for Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell in November. This is a bit of a stretch considering that a) lots of people have already voted for her--which is how she won Tuesday’s GOP primary, and b) the earliest post-election polls show her trailing her opponent, Democrat Chris Coons, by only 10 points in a race that has, thus far, only focused on O’Donnell.
Her victory has certainly resonated with someone, as evidenced by reports that she raised more than half a million dollars over the Internet in just one day after winning the primary. Something profound is going on, something into which O’Donnell has clearly tapped.
O’Donnell won on Tuesday by tying successfully in the minds of Republican primary voters her opponent--liberal Republican Rep. Mike Castle--to President Barack Obama. It should be abundantly clear by now that Obama’s agenda is not popular with the American people, many of whom have concluded that the only way to register their disapproval with what he wants to do is by voting for whatever Republican happens to be handy. The same was true for Jimmy Carter, who not only lost his bid for re-election in 1980 but created an environment in which the Republicans were able to pick up a net of 12 U.S. Senate seats, costing the Democrats control of the chamber for the first time in a generation.
The Democrats understand, in my judgment correctly, that their continued control of the Senate is in jeopardy. With that in mind they have opened up the “scorched Earth” campaign playbook in order to brand every GOP Senate candidate they can as an extremist. How else does one explain the sudden respect, affection, and admiration that Democrats and liberal commentators are showing for defeated Senate candidates, not just in Delaware but in Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Kentucky, and Utah? As if they would ever have voted for any of them anyway?
It is also interesting to note that some of the same people who have tied their intestines into anguished knots over the unfairness of anyone questioning President Obama’s religious convictions are now making sport of those held by O’Donnell. The irony is lost on them, probably due to the overwhelming scent of desperation that fills the air.
When writing about politics and elections it is all too easy to fall victim to the temptation to conclude that since you might not vote for a particular candidate that no one else will either. This idea is best expressed in the observation attributed to the New Yorker’s Pauline Kael that she could not understand how Richard Nixon had won a second term in the White House--carrying 49 of the 50 states as he did so--because no one she knew had voted for him.
The race in Delaware will close. O’Donnell may still not win but the race is not, for the moment anyway, the sure thing blowout that many commentators are gleefully suggesting.