Another Democratic Year in Delaware

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Delaware’s down-ballot races may provide more than a footnote to national election coverage as Democratic Senator Joe Biden runs for two offices and Republican Representative Mike Castle struggles against a Democratic trend.  According to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, most Democrats are leading in Delaware.

In the race for governor, Democrat Jack Markell has lots of traction against Republican Bill Lee, comfortably leading 61%-27% when “leaners” are included.  Another 11% are unsure.  Democrats break strongly for Markell, (86%-5%) while just two-thirds of Republicans (66%) support Lee.

In an unusual election, where incumbent Senator Joe Biden weighs in for vice-president as well as senator, he comfortably leads Republican challenger Christine O’Donnell, an alumna of Fairleigh Dickinson University, 69%-26%.  More than nine of ten Democrats break for Biden, while about three in five Republicans support O’Donnell.

“Republicans are struggling nationwide this year but in Delaware they have a mountain to climb,” said Peter Woolley, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and director of the poll. “The bright spot for Republicans in Delaware is the House seat,” he said.

In the election for Delaware’s at-large district for the U.S. House of Representatives, longtime incumbent Mike Castle leads the Democratic challenger, Karen Hartley-Nagel 62%-28% with leaners included.  In this race, Republicans break for Castle 86%-7% while Democrats split about evenly, 47% for Castle and 44% for the Hartley-Nagel.   The Democrat not only doesn’t carry Democrats but doesn’t carry women. They break for Castle by a two-to-one margin (59%-31%).

“Castle is a phenom,” said Woolley.  “He’s a Republican in a Democratic state in the midst of a Democratic trend in a Presidential year.  But in a year in which turnout might be exceptionally high, he can’t take the seat for granted,” added Woolley.

Another Karen, and a Democrat—Karen Weldin Stewart—is leading over Republican John Brady in the race for Insurance Commissioner by 41% to 33% including leaners, but a quarter of voters (24%) are undecided.  In that race, Democrats prefer Weldin Stewart 62%-15% over the Republican while one in five are undecided while Republicans prefer Brady over the Democrat by 66%-14% with one in five undecided.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 601 randomly selected likely voters statewide in Delaware was conducted by telephone from September 17 through September 21 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Contacts: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239 Dan Cassino 973.896.7072

For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.

Copyright © 2008, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 080923]