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Friday, September 17, 2010

The tsunami is about seven weeks from shore. How many Democrats will it wash out to sea?

The pros tell us that 2010 will be a "wave" election, and if that's true then think of Republicans as passengers on a ship who have just watched the tsunami roll over them. A few were washed overboard on the port side, but the GOP is likely to suffer no more losses. Now the huge wave is roaring toward shore, heading directly for the Democrats who are running American government.

Democrats and their media retinue are pointing to the tea party upset in Delaware as a sign of GOP "civil war" that will cost them at least a Senate seat. And so it probably will. Christine O'Donnell is the weakest of the successful tea party primary challengers this year, with little career achievement and a history of suing her friends. She is already a two-time loser in the state that President Obama carried with 62% of the vote.

Yet the mere fact of her improbable primary victory speaks to the depth of the public uprising against the ruling political class. The upset owed less to Ms. O'Donnell's virtues than to Mike Castle's 18-year voting record in a primary season when Republican voters want candidates who will clean out the Augean stables, not find a corner to lie in. Until the very end, Mr. Castle's TV commercials were aimed at general election voters, bragging about the pork he had brought home. This is not a pork-selling year, and after 44 years in public life Mr. Castle had lost touch with his small state's primary voters.

The challenge now for Sarah Palin, South Carolina GOP Senator Jim DeMint and the tea partiers who endorsed Ms. O'Donnell is to show they can deliver seats in the Senate rather than merely conduct an intra-party cleansing. If they really want to change Washington with a revived GOP, they will have to deliver Senate victories in November in most of the states where their candidates prevailed—Kentucky, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska and Delaware. Otherwise their insurrection will merely have helped Democrats retain their majority.

The challenge for the GOP establishment, meanwhile, is to focus on feeding the tsunami rather than engage in recriminations over who lost Delaware. The peevish leaks to the media on Election Night that the party apparatus won't support Ms. O'Donnell in November (since repudiated) will only alienate tea party and independent voters who mistrust Republicans as much as they do Democrats. (continues here at WSJ)

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