A brand new post-debate Rasmussen poll has Christine O'Donnell trailing Democrat Chris Coons by only 11-points, 51%-40%, picking up eight from the pre-debate Monmouth University poll that had her trailing by 19 points, 57%-38%.
The Rasmussen poll is a startling development in a race that has taken an unusual twist in the last 48 hours. It puts Coons perilously close to sinking under the 50% margin. O'Donnell won 150,000 votes in a 2008 Senate bid against then-Senator Joe Biden when Biden was also running for vice president, which in today's climate could be enough to win.
Appearing on Sean Hannity's radio show yesterday, O'Donnell reacted to Hannity's questions about the position of the GOP establishment towards her candidacy. Without missing a beat O'Donnell slammed the National Republican Senatorial Committee for deliberately undermining her campaign during the primary -- and once victory was in hand balking on the needed resources on the grounds that everywhere else was more important.
This attack drew the usual Inside the Beltway gasps. What observers missed is that something else is happening as a result of the O'Donnell-NSRC problems.
Whatever O'Donnell thinks of the NRSC, this entire election has become one very big D-Day style invasion by average Americans of every last Establishment or Ruling Class redoubt in the country that's accessible by ballot box.
And O'Donnell's attack on the NRSC -- initially seen as standard-issue Insider politics that no one cares about beyond the Beltway -- has come to symbolize O'Donnell's, and voters', disdain for The Ruling Class. In essence, what is ordinarily a deeply obscure Insider's Washington institution -- the NRSC -- has become only the latest punching bag on the receiving end of candidates furious blows against this or that Establishment institution.
This approach is clearly reflected in O'Donnell's startling gain in the Rasmussen poll since her debate this week. The practical matter is that she -- as with Sharron Angle in Nevada or Joe Miller in Alaska and others -- has understood from the get-go that conservatism is mixing well in this campaign with a visceral dislike of the arrogance that many perceive as seeping from the pores of any Establishment institution. No one would ever think of the NRSC as a "liberal" institution -- but "Establishment" -- sure. As are all party committees on both sides of the partisan divide. And thus in a peculiarly unwitting fashion perhaps the greatest in-kind contribution the NRSC can make to O'Donnell has already been made: donating itself as a target.
And so O'Donnell gains, her deeply Establishment opponent now perilously close to dropping below the 50% mark.
With three weeks to go, only a crazy person would think the Delaware race is over.
Maybe Christine O'Donnell is bewitching Delaware after all.
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