Republicans more than likely cost themselves a Senate seat last night. Chris Coons begins the general election in Delaware with a 50-34 lead over Christine O'Donnell. Mike Castle would have led Coons by a 45-35 margin.
While O'Donnell may have ingratiated herself to Delaware's small group of registered Republicans over the last month she's turned off everyone else. An August Daily Kos/PPP poll in Delaware found her favorability rating at 23/33. It's now 29/50.
If Castle had won he would have received more Democratic support than any other Republican Senate candidate in the country. Now our polling suggests with O'Donnell's victory that Coons will win more Republicans than any other Democratic Senate candidate in the country. That's because of a general unwillingness to support O'Donnell from Castle's moderate base- folks from the centrist wing of the GOP are planning to support Coons 54-31. Overall he takes a full 25% of the GOP vote while also largely consolidating the Democratic base for a 72-13 lead on that front. He also has a narrow 42-36 advantage with independents, a group Democrats are losing with most everywhere else.
Only 31% of voters in the state think O'Donnell's fit to hold public office while 49% think that she is not. Even with Republicans in the state less than half at 48% believe that she is. That may seem inconsistent with her victory last night but keep in mind that our general election poll includes GOP voters who were not planning to vote in yesterday's primary. Only 33% of independents and 16% of Democrats believe O'Donnell's fit.
Coons himself is largely undefined. 36% of voters don't know enough about him to have formed an opinion and those who have split pretty evenly with 31% seeing him favorably and 33% unfavorably. But given O'Donnell's considerable baggage he will probably win this race as long as he can avoid making any serious mistakes in the next 7 weeks. And his personal numbers are likely to go up as voters in the state shift their attention to the general election and begin getting to know him better.
The result of the Delaware primary last night is the best thing that has happened to Democrats electorally since election night in 2008.
Full results here