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Will Palin’s Endorsement Change The Odds in Delaware?

On late Tuesday, a Sarah Palin “retweet” with favorable words for Delaware GOP Senate primary candidate Christine O’Donnell provoked a controversy: was a retweet the same as a tweet? More importantly, did it count as an endorsement? O’Donnell, for her part, stayed coy: “No, that’s a retweet. That’s a, ‘You go, girl,” she told the press.

Yesterday evening, however, as I report today in my story about O’Donnell’s chances, Palin made things official. The former Alaska governor announced her endorsement on Sean Hannity’s radio program and also on her Facebook page. ”We can’t afford ‘more of the same’ in Washington,” she wrote. “Christine will help usher in the real change we need to get America on the right track.”

But with less than four days until the Delaware GOP primary, will it really matter? Palin’s endorsements throughout the midterm season have received a lot of attention, but she’s only batting about .500 when it comes to the success of her chosen ‘mama and papa grizzlies.’ Chris Good at The Atlantic, for one, thinks the endorsement might have less to do with Palin’s feelings about O’Donnell or her chances on Tuesday and more about simple repayment to Tea Party Express, the group that backed her up in launching Joe Miller over Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in Alaska.

There’s no doubt that Palin’s endorsement will focus still more national attention on the Delaware race and maybe help even out the fundraising deficit that O’Donnell faces. Even with the Tea Party Express pledging to to spend $250,000 on O’Donnell’s behalf, it doesn’t come close to Rep. Mike Castle’s (R-Del.) haul of $3.2 million, the bulk of which he is reported to still have on hand.

But national attention, I point out in my article, is not what O’Donnell lacks. The Tea Party Express and the national media, both eager talk up a possible upset in Delaware for different reasons, saw to that several weeks ago, and the increased scrutiny has done nearly as much to hurt her campaign as it’s helped.

On the local level, her endorsement will only work if it drives turnout among the O’Donnell faithful (mostly in southern Delaware), but it’ll backfire if it provokes more moderate Republican voters (mostly in the more populous northern part of the state) to realize the stakes of the election and come out in droves for Castle. Because O’Donnell and the Tea Party Express had already succeeded in getting the conservative base excited and eager to vote well before Palin ever got involved, my bet is that the nod will do more to energize her opponents that her supporters.

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