Christine O’Donnell isn’t a witch. And she probably won’t be the next Senator from Delaware, either. That hasn’t stopped a wave of national media attention. From witchcraft to debate gaffes to media clashes to the now-famous Gawker story about an alleged one-night stand, every move O’Donnell makes seems to light up the DC pundit crowd.
Considering that O’Donnell is looking up at a 18 point deficit, her campaign really doesn’t deserve the attention. But in a time when coverage of every local election seems to include the context of national trends, Republicans could do worse.
In 2002, a tasteless pep rally over Paul Wellstone’s corpse is blamed soured many voters on Democrats and helped big Republican gains. In 2006, George Allen’s macaca moment and Mark Foley’s dalliances with 16-year-old-boys contributed to the narrative of Republicans as out-of-touch, scandal-prone, and fat with power – a theme which had been established by the Katrina debacle and the Iraq war losing popularity. Elections in 2004 and 2008 benefited from Presidential coattails.
Thanks to O’Donnell’s fumbling, stumbling campaign, CNN and MSNBC aren’t banging their drums about the romper stomper outside a Rand Paul rally. Keith Fimian’s unwise use of the 2006 Virginia Tech shootings to illustrate the need for gun rights may cost him a tight race, but it won’t save other endangered Virginia Democrats – or successfully paint Republicans as crazy gun-toting nut jobs in races nationwide.
Christine O’Donnell won’t win a Senate seat in Delaware, but her campaign may help Republican gains elsewhere.
(One side note on this Gawker deal: So this lurid story of a one-night stand comes from from someone is doing well enough in life that he wasn’t interested in sealing the deal with O’Donnell, but not so well that he was above accepting a “low four figures” payment for the story?)