On May 5, 2009, a little known Speaker of the House from Florida by the name of Marco Rubio announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The media yawned, the pundits rolled their eyes, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee endorsed and slobbered over Gov. Charlie Crist as the "best chance to hold this seat" candidate. Meanwhile, Marco soared all the way to the low single digits in early polling in the race.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Charlie's coronation. Marco worked tirelessly to build up a grassroots campaign, influential consevative leaders such as Erick Erickson at RedState endorsed his candidacy, and Charlie Crist was, well, Charlie Crist. The next thing you know, Marco's leading Charlie by 30+ points in the polls, Charlie has left the party he ostensibly loved to run as an Independent, and the NRSC was left looking, well, rather sheepish.
Now, while Charlie Crist could charitably be described as a "moderate" Republican, Mike Castle is, quite simply, a liberal Republican as has been outlined here. But "conventional wisdom" has chanted in unison that a) Mike Castle must be the pre-ordained GOP nominee for Senate because, b) only a liberal Republican like Castle can win in Delaware (a fact someone should point out to conservatives Gov. Pete DuPont and Sen. William Roth).
Well, Mike Castle may have more in common with Charlie Crist than just his "presumed nomination" and left-of-center voting record. According to a poll released by Rasmussen on July 15, there are some interesting trends a brewin' in the upcoming GOP Primary between Castle and his primary opponent Christine O'Donnell.
For the chart-viewing challenged, here are the highlights from the poll:
1) Castle's 29 point lead over Democratic nominee Chris Coons has dwindled down to 9 points (causing Rasmussen to move this race from "Solid GOP" to "Leans GOP");
2) The "unfavorable" ratings for Castle (31%), Coons (29%) and O'Donnell (33%) are roughly equivalent;
3) 25% of Likely Voters do not yet have an opinion of O'Donnell which leaves her with a lot of upside whereas only 9% of voters don't have an opinion of Castle; and, finally (and the big one)
4) Rasmussen shows O'Donnell ahead of Coons 41% to 39%.
For the Castle camp who's chief raison d'etre for supporting Mike is that he's the only electable candidate, this news could not have been greeted with champagne, cavier and cigars all around. In fact, as we speak, I picture members of the Castle staff punching in the cell numbers of the Crist staff and asking in bewildered voices "How can this be?"
Well, here's the bottom line. Voters, even in Delaware, are fed up with 2,000 page unread bills jammed through in secrecy and trillions of dollars in debt piled onto their kids and grandkids. They're looking for someone who's going to be part of the solution, not someone who's been part of the problem for the last 44 years. They're looking for a leader outside the political cesspool, not a politician who has spent his entire adult life going from one political office to another.
Christine O'Donnell has cultivated and garnered the support of the grassroots activists, just like Marco Rubio did. Christine O'Donnell raised over $100,000 in the quarter just ended, not from PACs (like so much of Mike Castle's donations) but from the same small donor base that catapulted Marco Rubio past Charlie Crist. Christine has been endorsed by Erick Erickson from RedState as well as the influential pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. Christine doesn't need to match Mike dollar for dollar or anything close because she has something money can't buy: the passionate energy of those who are fighting for a cause not for just another step on the political ladder.
Delaware has elected conservative leaders in the past and if there was ever an election cycle in which they will do so again, this is it. Christine can be that leader because Mike Castle's coronation into the U.S. Senate is no more pre-ordained than Charlie Crist's.
Originally posted at 73wire.com