Straining to Legitimize Christine O'Donnell

David Brooks and Roger Simon have both written columns rebuking pundits (like me) who make what they consider arrogant claims about Christine O'Donnell's dim electoral prospects and about the limits of the Tea Party's benefit to the Republican Party. I'm not convinced. Brooks's point is that there's no evidence the Tea Party has driven independents away from the Republican Party. Well no, but it's too soon to say. Tea Party activism will undoubtedly help Republicans this fall, but if they lose states like Delaware and Nevada, we'll know its limits. Simon tweaks the Washington groupthink that wrote off O'Donnell's primary chances and hints that another comeuppance could be at hand in the general:

So what happen[ed]? The nut gets 53.1 percent of the vote. (Obama got 52.9 percent in his 2008 presidential victory.) O'Donnell now will carry the Republican banner against Democrat Chris Coons, the county executive of New Castle County, the most populous county in Delaware. Which means, analysts quickly decided, that she will lose.

Anybody spot the problem here? O'Donnell got 53.1 percent in a Republican primary, while Obama got his 52.9 percent in the general election.

Any number of things could propel O'Donnell to become a legitimate threat--national celebrity, "sudden-phenom" fundraising totals, voter resentment, hidden armies of guilt-stricken chronic masturbators. But basing the claim on her primary numbers doesn't add up.