Roughly 11 hours after tea party-backed Christine O’Donnell shocked the Republican establishment in Delaware’s GOP Senate primary, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn promised to “stand by all of our Republican nominees, including Christine O’Donnell.”
“I reached out to Christine this morning, and as I have conveyed to all of our nominees, I offered her my personal congratulations and let her know that she has our support,” The Texas Republican said in a statement. “This support includes a check for $42,000 — the maximum allowable donation that we have provided to all of our nominees — which the NRSC will send to her campaign today.”
It was widely reported late Tuesday night that the NRSC would largely ignore O’Donnell, who is thought to have little appeal to the independents and Democrats who dominate the First State’s political landscape. O’Donnell defeated Rep. Mike Castle, who was backed by local and national Republican establishments and was favored to win the Senate race in November had he become the Republican nominee.
Cornyn did not rule out the possibility that the NRSC would make independent expenditures in the Delaware race, which is covered by the expensive Philadelphia media market. But he did not offer much cause for optimism for the cash-strapped O’Donnell campaign, which reported a little more than $20,000 in the bank as of Aug. 25.
“We remain committed to holding Democrat nominee New Castle County Executive Chris Coons accountable this November, as we inform voters about his record of driving his county to the brink of bankruptcy and supporting his party’s reckless spending policies in Washington,” he said.
“In the weeks ahead, we will decide where to best allocate additional financial resources among the large number of competitive races at stake this November. While it’s not in Republicans’ interest to advertise our spending strategy to our opponents, it’s worth noting that just yesterday, the NRSC’s first independent expenditure ad aired in support of Dr. Rand Paul’s campaign in Kentucky, where we firmly believe that he will win in November.”
Public Policy Polling released a survey Wednesday morning showed O’Donnell well behind in general election matchup, although the poll was conducted before her upset victory on Tuesday.
Coons begins the contest with a 50 percent to 34 percent lead over Christine O’Donnell, the survey from the Democratic firm found. Meanwhile, Castle would have led Coons by a 45 percent to 35 percent margin, according to a survey of 958 likely Delaware voters taken Sept. 11 and 12.
PPP is the same firm that released a poll in the days before Tuesday’s primary that showed O’Donnell ahead of Castle.
The new survey found O’Donnell is better known but less liked than Coons. She has a 29 percent to 50 percent favorable/unfavorable rating, while Coons’ favorable/unfavorable rating is 31 percent to 33 percent. Of those polled, 40 percent said O’Donnell is too conservative, and the poll found that 49 percent of respondents said O’Donnell is not fit to hold public office.
“A small group of Delaware Republicans most likely cost their party this seat and any chance at gaining control of the Senate last night,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “What has looked like an easy Republican win the entire cycle now looks like an easy one for the Democrats.”