Upon the news of Mike Castle getting in to the race for the Senate yesterday Larry Sabato tweeted that the Delaware race would be a classic test of the 2010 mood.
Most of the folks running in key Senate races next year are pretty bland and anonymous. Very few people have strong opinions about the Michael Bennets, Jane Nortons, Gilbert Bakers, Mark Kirks, Richard Burrs, Elaine Marshalls, Paul Hodes, Kelly Ayottes, Lee Fishers, and Rob Portmans of the world. I think all of their races will go in one direction if next year is particularly good for the Republicans or for the Democrats- the candidates don't seem to be distinctive enough to avoid riding a wave.
I disagree with Sabato about Delaware though. Delaware and Missouri are two states where the candidates are so well known that voters might choose based on something more personalized than whether they hate the Democrats or the Republicans more at that moment.
Of all the competitive 2010 Senate contests those two are the only ones where both likely candidates have registered more than 75% name recognition in our polling. 83% of voters in Missouri have an opinion about Roy Blunt, 81% do about Robin Carnahan. 87% in Delaware have a take on Mike Castle and 76% do of Beau Biden. I'm sure it's no coincidence that three of the four come from prominent political families.
So I can see next year being a very GOP friendly year and Carnahan and Biden still pulling it out. And I can see where it would somehow be a Democratic year but Castle would still win. These candidates are strong enough personalities that voters might look beyond party labels to a greater extent than normal and buck a national trend.