While Darryl works on a more thorough statistical analysis of Patty Murray’s 51-46% lead in today’s Rasmussen Poll, I’d like to take a moment to muse on the political impact of Dino Rossi’s recent round of bad news.
Rasmussen’s is now the third independent poll in as many days to show Murray at or above 50% with a modest but statistically significant lead (the fourth if you count the DSCC’s recently released internal poll), all of which come at the most inopportune time for the Republican nominee. For with teabagger Christine O’Donnell’s stunning victory in Tuesday’s primary flipping Delaware from the Likely Republican to the Likely Democratic column, a Republican takeover of the Senate is now well nigh impossible, making a major investment in what has always been a long shot Rossi campaign much less attractive than it was only a week ago.
The thinking was that a Rossi candidacy would put Washington into play in what many predicted to be a wave election year, allowing Republicans to at least claim a roadmap toward control of the Senate. Even Rossi has frequently promoted himself as the 51st seat, in an obvious effort to nationalize the race.
But with O’Donnell’s election taking Delaware off the map — and Republican control of the Senate with it — the NRSC and its allies must now recalculate the electoral math that determines where they will invest their money. Do they spread it around, even in Democratic-leaning Washington, and with polls trending in Murray’s favor? Or do they pull money out of Washington and concentrate it on more promising races like Wisconsin and Nevada, while playing defense in Kentucky?
If control of the Senate is at stake, it’s hard not to argue for the former. But if you can’t win control without Delaware, and you can’t win Delaware, then Washington suddenly becomes much less important. In fact, the Senate itself becomes much less important, potentially prompting conservative PACs to focus their largesse on winning control of the House.
And that poses a huge problem for Rossi, whose entire campaign strategy seems predicated on the expectation that huge gobs of “independent” expenditure cash will be dumped into his race during the final few weeks of the campaign. Indeed, forced to face off against Murray coffer to coffer, Rossi’s got no strategy.
Rossi benefited from some early IE’s (mostly funded by Rossi’s attorney), but we haven’t seen a single one on the airwaves since before Labor Day. Coincidence? Maybe, but the Republicans have their own internal polls too, and since they’re not releasing them, it is reasonable to suspect that they don’t much change this narrative. So perhaps Republican money is already drying up as polling trends show this race to be less and less winnable?
Election day is still six weeks away, but mail-in ballots drop in a little more than three, so there’s not much time left to decide where to spend all that money. And if Rossi doesn’t get some good news awfully soon, he might not see nearly as much of this money as he likely expected.