Former Lieutenant Governor John Carney is in as a Democratic challenger to Mike Castle for Delaware's House seat next year.
When we polled that then hypothetical contest last month we found Castle leading 49-32 but there were a couple pretty strong indications within the numbers that Carney could make a race of it:
-The 19% of respondents who said then that they were undecided was a very Democratic leaning lot. 50% were Democrats and 35% were independents with just 15% Republicans. More than two thirds of them expressed approval for Barack Obama's job performance at that time, a rate higher than his overall 63% in the state. Carney has an inherent edge with those voters if he can get across a message that he needs to be elected to help enact the Obama agenda.
-Castle's strong performance in the poll was predicated on receiving 34% of the Democratic vote. Certainly he does have an unusual level of crossover support for a politician, but part of the reason he polls so well across party lines is that Democrats have put forth such weak challengers to him for the most part that many in the rank and file have just become accustomed to voting for Castle. That could well change with an energetic and well funded Democratic opponent. A full third of the Democrats who said they would vote for Castle don't have an opinion about Carney one way or the other so as he becomes more familiar to voters in the state he may get back some of that support from within his party.
Castle, with nearly 30 years in statewide office, certainly starts out as a strong favorite. But Carney has a chance.