Sabatos Crystal Ball

Delaware Races

Senate Outlook for 2008

Can Democrats Take Advantage of the Turf?

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Delaware

Outlook: Solid Democratic


May 28, 2008 Update:

No major developments out of Delaware, which is bad news for Republicans. With long-time Democratic incumbent Joe Biden running again, any Republican hopes for this seat would require a sea change of nearly incomprehensible proportions. Biden has coasted to victory in each of his last several campaigns, and has a well stocked war chest to fend off all comers. His challenger from across the aisle is Christine O’Donnell, a public relations consultant who fell in the Republican primary for Senate in 2006. O’Donnell’s chances don’t appear to be much better this time around; Biden isn’t going anywhere.

March 3, 2008 Update:

Welcome back, Joe Biden. With his bowing out from the presidential race, Biden finds himself back in the role he’s become accustomed to: senior Senator from the First State. The results of November’s presidential election could have impact on this seat’s future, as Biden’s name has been bandied about as a potential Secretary of State for a Democratic president. But in November 2008, the scene is pretty well set. This is Joe Biden’s seat, it has been since 1973, and it will remain his seat for as long as he chooses to keep it.


Background

If Joe Biden decides to make an official run for the Presidency in 2008, Delaware could see a very competitive race with its first open seat since 1970. However, with Biden never polling higher than a distant fourth it seems unlikely that he will fully commit to a run for the Oval Office. Biden himself has said he will decide on his chances by the end of the year. Though Delaware rules allow candidates to run simultaneously for Congress and the Presidency, so far it does not appear that Biden will become the Democratic nominee in 2008.

Though Biden is not looking strong in the early polls for the 2008 presidential race, a long history of service to Delaware certainly has him as a shoo-in for the senate seat. As Delaware’s longest serving senator, Biden has won re-election solidly in his past two terms and enjoys a 63 percent job approval rating. If he gives the Senate another run, Biden will be a next-to-impossible incumbent to beat in this truly blue state.

With Biden’s future plans uncertain, so is the list for potential challengers and successors. Current eight term U.S. Representative and former two term Delaware Governor Mike Castle is speculated to be the biggest threat Republicans have in their arsenal. With his long service to the state and overflowing piggybank ($1.2 million on hand), Castle would prove a difficult challenger for Biden. However, a run from Castle is mere speculation, since his failure to challenge Biden in the past and his age (68 years) have discouraged Republicans from hanging their hopes on him yet.

As for Democratic successors, Delaware Attorney General and Joe’s eldest son, Beau Biden, has been cited as a potential successor. This would seem a logical next step in Beau’s career and would seem to offer his father an incentive to step down. Democratic state Treasurer Jack Markell’s name has also been thrown around, however he is currently a candidate in Delaware’s gubernatorial race, also to be decided in 2008.

Only time can tell what will happen in this race, as much can happen between now and Delaware’s July 2008 filing deadline.

Candidates

Joseph Biden (I) – Democrat – current U.S. Senator
Website

Christine O’Donnell – Republican – 2006 candidate
Website