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Poll: A Curious Senate Race in Delaware

The first polling on the potential candidates for Delaware’s 2010 U.S. Senate race showed Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) winning easily. Public Policy Polling had Castle leading state attorney general Beau Biden by eight points. Susquehanna Polling and Research had Castle crushing Biden by 21 points. Today, however, we have a Rasmussen Reports poll showing Castle up only 47-42 on Biden.

It’s sketchy to look for “trends” from separate polls, but there’s a possible explanation here. At the start of the year, Biden, who won a fairly close election in 2006, was frowned on by some of Delaware’s Democratic-leaning voters because of the ease with which this seat was being prepared for him. Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief of staff Ted Kaufman was appointed to replace the elder Biden, and Kaufman had promised to retire in 2010 … it wasn’t hard to figure out the deal. But since then, Biden has done a tour of duty in Iraq and come out, somewhat, from his father’s shadow.

Biden running competitively with Castle is good news for Democrats. Forget the blue tint of the state. Castle is a legend — elected to the Delaware House of Representatives in 1966, he has been elected lieutenant governor and governor, and never lost a campaign. He has not had a tough race since the early 1980s. And Castle really is the only Delaware Republican who can make a run out of this. If he thinks he can easily win a four-year Senate term to cap off his career, that’s one thing. If he is looking at a pitched battle that may end with him losing his safe perch in Washington, that’s another. It’s worth watching this seat — the decisions and egos of a small group of people will have a huge impact on whether a safe Democratic seat is in play next year.

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