Coons Leads O'Donnell by 16 Points

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 15 2010 10:07 AM

Coons Leads O'Donnell by 16 Points

I'm discussing Delaware's race on WHYY 90.9 shortly.

Public Policy Polling, the group that saw the O'Donnell upset coming, gives New Castle County Executive Chris Coons a 50-34 lead over Christine O'Donnell in Delaware's U.S. Senate race. There's no good news for her, with a positive/negative favorable rating of 29/50 and a substantial chunk of the electorate, well-versed on News Journal stories about her, saying she isn't fit for public office. The only good news, sort of, is that the poll was taken before the votes came in.

Steve Kornacki, who does for political history what Bill Simmons does for basketball, asks if Beau Biden blew his best chance at career advancement. He gets this 90 percent and 10 percent wrong.

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The Senate contest, which is technically a special election to fillthe final four years of the term [Joe] Biden was elected to in 2008, wastriggered by Biden's elevation to the vice presidency. Biden, who hadheld the seat since 1972, badly wanted his son, state Attorney GeneralBeau Biden, to inherit it. But he couldn't hand it off right away (viaa gubernatorial appointment): that might have looked unseemly. Soinstead, Delaware's then-Democratic governor, Ruth Ann Minner, appointed an old Biden aide with no political ambitions of his own, Ted Kaufman, to the seat.Kaufman would be a caretaker, someone to sit in the Senate and vote theright way in 2009 and 2010 without standing in Beau Biden's way in the'10 special election... Now, it will be a shocker if Chris Coons doesn't win in November. Hejust turned 47 a few weeks ago, meaning that he could be in the Senatefor decades to come, sitting in the Senate seat that Joe Biden held for38 years -- and that his son was too apprehensive to seek on his own.

The one hole in this: Beau Biden had a stroke in May . As good as the opportunity looked for him, we don't know how he would have dealt with a serious health problem in the middle of the campaign. And hey, I like the Bidens, but as far as Problems Facing the Republic go, the fate of political dynasties is a minor one.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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