When PPP took a look at Delaware in March, Mike Castle led Beau Biden 44-36. Fast forward nine months and pretty much nothing has changed with Castle leading by a similar 45-39 margin.
Two major trends have shown up in both polls to give Castle the early advantage. The first is an overwhelming 52-23 lead with independents. That mirrors a national trend of strong Republican performance with that group, although Castle's edge is particularly large. The second is that he wins over far more Democrats than Biden does Republicans. Castle has a 79-10 lead within his own party, while Biden is up just 65-20 in his. Castle is winning more support from people who approve of Obama than any other Republican Senate candidate we've polled on nationwide this year.
Also working to Castle's benefit is that the state is not nearly as enamored with Obama as it was earlier in the year. Just 53% of voters now approve of his job performance, down from 63% in March. While he is relatively steady with independents his standing with Democrats has gone from 89% to 79% and with Republicans he's declined from 25% to 18%. By a 46-43 margin Delaware voters say they're opposed to the health care bill the House of Representatives passed last month, an indication that Castle may have actually been on the right side of public opinion on that issue even in a Democratic state.
Castle may get a bit of a challenge from Christine O'Donnell in the Republican primary because 30% of the party's voters think that he's too liberal. Compared to other Republican Senate candidates across the country Castle is unusually popular with Democrats, as 48% view him favorably, but also unusually unpopular with Republicans, just 61% of whom view him positively. It's unusual for the gap in favorability for a politician between the two parties to be so small.
Biden has little crossover appeal, as just 15% of Republicans hold a positive opinion of him. His 38% favorability with independents runs 22 points behind Castle's 60%.
This race is still close and Biden, if he gets in the race, will have a decent shot at winning. But Mike Castle looked like the favorite last winter and nine months later he stills does.
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