Sep 15, 2010

Every Wednesday, Fix blogger Chris Cillizza discusses the latest primary results, Congress, the Obama administration and the world of politics.

Welcome to the chat.

Currently on 3 hours of sleep -- good times! -- so there may be more than the average number of typos in this chat. Bear with me.

Let's open with a question:

Which was a bigger upset...?

a) The East Dillon Lions beating the West Dillon Panthers on "Friday Night Lights" last season?

b) Christine O'Donnell beating Mike Castle in last night's Republican primary in Delaware?

Will he endorse O'Donnell, Coons, or just stay neutral?

My guess is that he won't endorse in the race. I think Castle was VERY upset and amazed that he had lost to Christine O'Donnell -- not to mention the fact that he simply has a very different view of what the Republican party should be than she does.

If this was a race where national Republicans still thought they had a chance, there might be pressure brought to bear on Castle to being a good soldier and get behind O'Donnell.

But, with the party seemingly prepared to walk away from O"Donnell, I can't imagine anyone telling Castle that he has to endorse her.

And, I don't think there is a way he voluntarily does it.

I was watching Nate Silver last night and he was saying that before the Delaware primary, Republicans had anywhere between 30%-35% chance of taking the senate. After O'Donnell won, he said the chance will drop to 15%. Is he right?

Taking Delaware from a likely pickup for Republicans to a likely hold for Democrats makes an already narrow path for the GOP to retake the majority even narrower.

There are still enough seats in play for them to win the 10 seats they need but it would now require either a clean sweep of Wisconsin, Washington and California -- possible but not probable -- or victories in two of those three and a victory in either Connecticut or West Virginia.

Could it happen? Sure. Will it happen? It's less likely today than it was yesterday.

I have seen you write many times that Democrats were impressed with Chris Coons and were telling people not to write him off. Now it looks like no one will be writing him off anymore.

I was VERY impressed with him when I met him several months ago when the idea of Christine O'Donnell beating Mike Castle wasn't even something that anyone even discussed.

Now, Coons is in the catbird's seat with a relatively clear path to the Senate.  Politics is amazing, isn't it?

Can we now say Senator Chris Coons?

Not yet...there is still 48 days of campaigning to come. But, he's a lot closer to being a Senator today than he was yesterday.

The pundits all say that O'Donnell can't win in November, but the pundits all said that she couldn't beat Castle. In other words -- and pardon me for being blunt -- since you've been wrong about her so far, why should we put any stock in what you're predicting about her now?

Well, two things.

1. I have always said that predicting outcomes in small state primaries is a fool's errand -- particularly in an election cycle like this one where the conservative base is SO fired up.

2. The Delaware general election electorate is nothing like the Delaware Republican primary electorate. This is a state that President Obama won with 62 percent and where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 100,000.

Hi Chris, In every paper I see the same picture of Christine O'Donnell. The one with her mouth hugely open. Is that her best view? Does that pic help her? It is always accompanied by words like "nutty" and "cookie." Do you secretly hope all of these "interesting" tea party candidates get in just so you have more material to work with?

Christine O'Donnell

Lots of questions on the photo, which is the one we used on the Fix last night.

I simply asked our photo folks for a picture and this is the one they sent. Given how busy last night was, I didn't spend a lot of time pondering it.


I always liked the way The Rock made his intro into the ring

Yes! No question. I still like Undertaker entrance -- creepy. Also, Dx.

Chris, You know that scene early on in "Legends of the Fall", where a disheartened, disgusted Anthony Hopkins takes his cavalry saber and just sticks it in the ground in the midst of a destroyed Indian village, and he just walks away from it, as in just done with it, just disgusted with the actions of those who he was working with? As a Republican, that's how it feels in the wake of Castle's loss. I never threw my hands up in disgust at where the party, and the conservative movement, was going...until now. I'm done. I'm now an Independent.

Interesting. And nice "Legends of the Fall" reference.

What is it that makes her so unelectable that the NRSC won't even throw her a bone - or a couple hundred thousand? I don't know much about her.

She has some personal financial issues that won't look good in 30 second ads from Chris Coons. And, she is pretty unpolished -- in terms of staying on message -- on the campaign trail.

I just don't see why O'Donnell is a LOCK to lose in November, as the media is predicting. Because of her personal finance skeletons? (see Geithner, Tim) or inexperience? (see Franken, Al).

Never a lock in this game. 

But, she is an underdog because a) Delaware is a Democratic state b) it's not clear she can raise the money to be competitive c) she has some personal baggage that could complicate her introduction to the state's voters.

Reluctantly, I must say--as we live in the real world--O'Donnell's was the greater upset (but I still love East Dillon!)

But, East Dillon was HUGE.  I mean, Vince emerged as a leader, Luke overcame a hip injury and an accidental pregnancy....BIG STUFF.

Any chance Ovide turns this thing around?

Absolutely. It's still VERY close in New Hampshire.

With 88% in, Kelly Ayotte has 46,863 votes (38.2 percent) to Lamontagne's 45,777 (37.4 percent).

That's dang close.

I read your post and the three reasons you gave as to why O'Donnell won are all valid, but I'm surprised you didn't credit a 4th reason - very few votes. I'm not sure if the Delaware Republicans stayed home are if there just aren't many to begin with, but those final vote tallies are mind-blowingly small to me, even for a small state.

Turnout was tiny...the issue I have is that there have been so few competitive Republican primaries in Delaware that it's next to impossible to determine how last night's turnout compares to past races.

Hi Chris, I am a bit unclear on what is happening in New Hampshire. I believe it was reported this morning that the Tea Party-backed candidate was on the road to a win, but currently the GOP-backed candidate is ahead with most districts reporting. Can you clarify the situation? Thanks!

New Hampshire's Senate race is much less cut and dried in terms of tea party stuff than Delaware.

Ayotte has the support of Sarah Palin and other notable conservatives but is also the choice of the party establishment.

Lamontagne has run Ayotte's right and won some tea party support.

But, this is not clear cut.

Enjoying reading your thoughts this morning, but this chat is lacking a Raj Goyle reference.

Not anymore!

Also, good post primary music: John prine station on Pandora.

With O'Donnell's primary victory last night, and the increased likelihood of Democrats retaining that seat, do you see any other states in which Republicans might surprise Democrats and take back the Senate?

Outside of the one we all talk about, the five other D seats to keep and eye on are:






The topic above pretty much gives away the question. More broadly, don't Republicans have to win in some traditionally Democratic-leaning areas in order to take the majority in the U.S. House of Representativevs? Although Republican Mike Castle has representated this congressional district for years, Delaware-at-Large is pretty Democratic leaning.

Yes. Although even if Michele Rollins comes back to win -- it's not been called by the AP yet -- Carney is still a strong favorite to win Castle's seat.

So will it be Neil Abercrombie or Mufi Hannenmann who'll win the last state primary?

The final primary! Sept. 18 -- this Saturday.  Polling suggest Hannemann.

But, that's only the second biggest showdown happening on Saturday? The first? The 5-0 Catholic University field hockey team takes on perennial powerhouse Rowan University at home.


If you won't let your kid play football? You think Tim Riggins worries about injury?!

It's so true. Riggs doesn't worry about that stuff.

But, remember, my role will be the nerdy uncle who was long an outcast from the family due to my neuroses and east coast shine.

In a time of disorder, the Riggins family needs some order and Uncle Chris isn't the black sheep anymore...

Did Delaware Republicans actually stay home? I have read estimates that nearly double the number of Republicans voted last night compared to what was expected for a primary (25,000-35,000 expected and 50,000+ actually voted).

See above. it's just SO hard to know what "average" turnout for a Republican primary in Delaware is because we have NO recent examples of competitive contests to look back on.

So is Tim Riggins out of jail in time for the final season of FNL, or does he lead the prisoner's football team in an upset win over the guards?

Has to be out of jail. He is THE center of the show -- with the possible exception of Tammy Taylor who freaking rocks.

What's next for Lazio? Fenty? Castle?

1. Lazio: Zippy

2. Fenty: Not sure.

3. Castle: Tom Carper is up in 2o12!

Was definitely Prince Naseem - a top English boxer in the 1990s. Rock got nothing on him.

I also used to love Hector "Macho Man" Camacho's entrance.

And, although it is old school, Hogan's "Real American" entrance was pretty awesome to a geeky teenage Fix back in the 80s.

I noticed you didn't list CO -- do you feel that's a D for sure now? I know in the past you've listed it as a tossup

Sorry, no.

I was listing races that haven't gotten as much attention but will now as Republicans look for another way to cobble together the 10 seats they need to pick up the majority.

Colorado is sitll very much a toss up. Polling suggests Ken Buck and Sen. Michael Bennet are in a dead heat.

You can be a Superstar without actually playing on the field: Plax, Santonio, Big Ben. So don't let your kid give up prematurely. V. Lombardi

GOOD point.

Also, if Fix Jr has any of my genes he is headed for a "first fan" athletic status.

Am crossing fingers he got all of Mrs. Fix's athletic genes.


I made it through the whole half hour without nodding off!  Victory!

I am off to write a post on the Winners and the Losers from last night's proceedings so stay tuned for that on the Fix later today.

And, don't forget, I will be back for my normal HOUR LONG "Live Fix" chat on Friday at 11 am. Be there!

In This Chat
Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza is the managing editor of PostPolitics and he writes "The Fix," a politics blog for The Washington Post. He also covers the White House for the newspaper and website. Chris has appeared as a guest on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and CNN to talk politics. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son.

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