The Delaware Senate race has seen its ups and downs. The words "Delaware Republican primary" hadn't really entered the consciousness of anyone outside the state as of two weeks ago, and now it's become one of the bigger election stories of the summer.
That's because just two weeks ahead of today's primary, back-bench candidate Christine O'Donnell was endorsed by Tea Party Express--the group that poured hundreds of thousands of Tea Party-donated dollars into Nevada and Alaska to deliver two big election upsets this year--which pledged to spend $250,000 on her behalf. After that, all Hell broke loose.
It was suddenly understood that this race might be competitive, but no one seemed to know for sure. Call it the Tea Party Express Uncertainty Principle: once the group got involved in the race, observers had to assume that anything could happen.
O'Donnell's opponents began pushing out waves of negative information on her, having learned from the mistakes of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Republican incumbent shockingly taken down just a week beforehand by attorney Joe Miller. Tea Party Express had delivered that victory as Murkowski was caught flat-footed. Not Castle. His campaign allies became a fire hydrant of bad stuff about O'Donnell. A source with the Delaware GOP told me she was basically unfit to serve in any office. Lots of people had bad things to say about her.
After much of that information and commentary made its way to the press, observers wondered if Tea Party Express had bitten off more than it could chew, and if the group was about to throw away $250,000 for no good reason in particular on a candidate who couldn't win. No other conservative groups got involved in this race--not the Club for Growth, not the Senate Conservatives Fund--so it really was just Tea Party Express running this race on their own. The reasons those other groups had shied away appeared self evident. It would have been wise, it seemed, for Tea Party Express to maybe, well, not spend all of that $250,000. After all, no one could make them...
But on primary day, the Tea Party Express Uncertainty Principle is alive and kicking. Earlier this week, Public Policy Polling showed O'Donnell leading by three percentage points. There's been a dearth of polling on this race, but PPP has been on the money in a few Senate primaries this year.