Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am not particularly optimistic about Democratic prospects for next year. But I think that as long as Beau Biden still runs now that Mike Castle is in the race, Democrats will hold onto the Senate seat in Delaware.
When we polled the state in March Castle was leading Biden 44-36. But not surprisingly his name recognition was also ten points higher. Among respondents who had an opinion of Biden, whether it was positive or negative, the Democrat led 43-41. And the undecideds in such a scenario were 64% Democratic to 12% Republican, as well as 35% African American.
So Castle's early poll leads are largely a function of name recognition, and given his nearly 30 years in statewide office really aren't that substantial.
By this time next year everyone in Delaware's going to know who Beau Biden is. Democrats who have a positive opinion of both Castle and Biden and are torn about who to vote for are more likely to be influenced by Joe Biden as a candidate surrogate than anyone Republicans could possibly send to the state. And if it's necessary Barack Obama will come in to reach out to those blacks who were only giving Biden 52% of the vote on our poll earlier this year (and folks don't realize that Delaware has one of the highest black populations in the country.)
Although it's not a perfect comparison, when Delaware voters had the choice between a popular old politician and a popular young politician in 2000 they chose Tom Carper over incumbent Bill Roth by a 56-44 margin in an election cycle that you would have to describe as pretty much a wash nationally.
Castle hasn't had to fight a tough race in years. Maybe he's up to the challenge. Maybe the climate will get even more toxic for Democrats than it already is. But for now I think Biden will win.