Commentary Magazine


O’Donnell’s Victory and What It Means

1. The victory of Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Senate race is the fourth defeat for the so-called “establishment” Republican candidate in a primary this year — preceded by Rand Paul in Kentucky, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Joe Miller in Alaska. That’s the East Coast, a border state, the Southwest, and way the hell and gone — an unmistakable demonstration that the Republican Party is reconstituting itself in an unprecedented fashion.

2. There seems to be a general presumption that O’Donnell can’t win, because polling suggests she has a long haul and because there are many questions about her fitness. Granted, all relevant signs suggest the man she defeated, Mike Castle, would have been the likely winner and she has an uphill climb. But can she win? Don’t be ridiculous. Of course she can win — in theory at least. She’s out of money, but her political stardom should allow her to raise millions from grassroots Tea Partiers nationwide and close the money gap with her Democratic rival.

3. The presumption among delighted people on the left-liberal side is that all this roiling on the right suggests a party in disarray and a movement intent on cannibalizing itself. That’s one way to look at it. The other is that the GOP is actually expanding and seizing the populist mood that seems to be the national direction — even though the GOP leadership, especially in the Senate, is finding the whole business unnerving and destructive.