Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Perennial fringe Republican Christine O'Donnell defeats Mike Castle in Delaware

A fringe right wing radical who was soundly beaten by Joe Biden two years ago (and who unsuccessfully ran against Tom Carper before that) tonight defeated Delaware's best known elected Republican for the party's Senate nomination.

Christine O'Donnell, forty one, has a 3,533 vote over seventy one year old U.S. Representative Mike Castle with 99% of precincts reporting.

The upset — suspected by many in the netroots community but pooh-poohed by establishment pundits — will undoubtedly shake up the contest for U.S. Senate in Delaware. The conventional wisdom was that Castle was a lock in the general election, giving Republicans a key pickup: Vice President Joe Biden's old seat, currently held by Ted Kaufman, who was appointed after Biden resigned.

Of course, the conventional wisdom was wrong. Castle couldn't even secure the nomination of his own party after decades of service in the House of Representatives, so it's pointless for pundits to continue to say that he would have been the victor in a matchup against Democrat Chris Coons. We'll never know who would have triumphed in a Castle/Coons matchup.

Similarly, it is a mistake to now declare that Coons will be a walk-in. Polls, forecast models, focus groups, and the like cannot accurately predict the outcome of elections. Collectively, public opinion research can indicate what may happen, but even then it is not conclusive. The media is so obsessed with outcomes, however, that it gives short shrift to issues in favor of attempting to report who's up and who's down (horse-race style coverage).

A person's gut instinct (or, as Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly calls it, seat-of-pants judgment) can amusingly be more accurate than polling, even though it's not scientific. My own personal experience has taught me this. Typically, when I've had bad feelings about a campaign that I've been involved in or paid attention to, that campaign has gone down to defeat. Conversely, when I've felt very hopeful about a campaign, it has usually won.

I don't care about being proved correct, so I generally avoid chronicling my feelings about a campaign. I'd rather advance a cause I believe in than comment on whether a particular candidate or ballot measure is going to succeed or fail.

Of course, if the traditional media — especially cable news executives — shared my attitude, they'd actually have to produce serious journalism.

POSTSCRIPT: MSNBC is currently airing Christine O'Donnell's victory speech. She is urging Delaware's Republican Party to unite behind her, which seems unlikely to happen given how hard the state Republican establishment worked against her after they became convinced she was a serious threat to Mike Castle.

Castle partisans were responsible for a hard-hitting last minute robocall featuring a former O'Donnell staffer, who did not have kind things to say about her ex-boss.
"I got into politics because I believe in conservative values and wanted to make a difference. But I was shocked to learn that O’Donnell is no conservative," says Murray, according to a script obtained by POLITICO.

"This is her third Senate race in five years. As O’Donnell’s manager, I found out she was living on campaign donations — using them for rent and personal expenses, while leaving her workers unpaid and piling up thousands in debt," she says.

Perhaps the most biting line in the call delivered by Murray: "She wasn't concerned about conservative causes. O’Donnell just wanted to make a buck."
O'Donnell and Tim Eyman must have a lot in common!


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