Christine O'Donnell may have a few things in her favor.
Her support seems to be disproportionally stronger in downstate Delaware where she did well in several election districts in the 2008 general election despite losing 2-1 statewide.
Over the last ten years Sussex County & Kent County have incresed their share of the Republican electorate.
It also appears that Mike Castle has taken notice of a possible threat in lower Delaware.
It looks like Rep. Mike Castle isn’t taking his Tea Party Express-backed primary opponent lightly: The Republican has purchased $113K worth of airtime before the primary. [...] A Dem source that monitors media buys tells Hotline On Call that Castle has purchased $113K worth of airtime for Aug. 31 to Sept. 6 in the Salisbury, MD, media market. That market broadcasts into southern DE. Castle has also purchased $26K worth of time on cable in New Castle County and $42K on radio.
Over the past decade the number of registered Republicans statewide has increased from 171,446 in 2000 to 182,989 in 2010 for an increase of 11,543 or a 6% increase. Sussex County has increased from 38,059 to 48,755 for an increase of 10,696 or 28%. Kent County has increased from 26,056 to 32,852 for an increase of 6796 or 26%. The number of registered Republicans in New Castle County decreased from 107,331 to 101,382 for a loss of 5949 or 5%.
If the two Southern counties are most hospitable to O'Donnell's candidacy, this increase might benefit her. She also may benefit from the Sussex County primary in the 19th State senate and three State Rep primaries in Kent County in the 29th ,31st and 33rd districts which may drive up local turnout.
WDEL host John Flaherty has pointed out that the campaign of Glen Urquhart , conservative candidate for the U.S. Representative seat , may have helped O'Donnell by espousing a similar set of issue statements and appealing to the same base in a campaign with a larger media budget with more airtime. Urquhart had been running radio ads for several weeks before O'Donnell was able to do so and it is possible he could energize some conservative voters into making it to the polls with the result that they would also vote for O'Donnell while in the voting booth for him( an electoral version of collateral damage).
Unfortunately for O'Donnell,despite losing several thousand Republicans over the last ten years New Castle County still has 101,382 Republicans to 81,607 in Kent & Sussex. For O'Donnell to win, turnout would have to be skewed in a way that several percentage points higher turnout took place in Kent & Sussex County and O'Donnell beat Castle 2-1 throughout the bulk of the these districts because I feel Castle will come out of New Castle County considerably ahead.
I also think Castle is likely to beat her handily in the 14th Rep District in the beach area of Eastern Sussex and may do the same in the 37th. Of the 686 votes cast in the 14th in the 2006 GOP Senate primary Jan Ting got 381 to O'Donnell's 86 and Mike Protack's 219. In the 37th out of 469 votes cast Ting got 280 to O'Donnell's 39 and Protack's 150.
I am thinking anywhere Ting won that big Csatle won't lose.I doubt O'Donnell's socially conservative message will fly here as well as in Western Sussex.
The 14th & 37th districts may be perceived as a test to see if Castle's work on beach replenishment is seen as government intruding in people's lives or as a needed infrastructure help which will bring people and therefore profits for small businesses in the resort area. As recently as September 10, 2010 Castle was touting beach replenishment in Bethany Beach:
In districts like the 4th Rep district and 12 district where Ting got more votes than O'Donnell & Protack combined, I expect Castle to do as well. In the 7th,10th & 12th in Brandywine Hundred Ting did almost that well and I expect Castle to do better than Ting,since they both had the party endorsement and Castle has higher name recognition and a stronger campaign organization after decades in elected office.
The 14th & 37th in Eastern Sussex should somewhat offset the areas of Western Sussex where O'Donnell may make inroads and may win multiple election districts.
I think New Castle County more than offsets whatever victories O'Donnell has in Kent & Sussex.
I think Castle is likely to win by 10-15 % points.
Kent Republicans 32,852
New Castle -101,382
New Castle- 100,661
178,655 Republicans Statewide
Kent Republicans 30,535