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Could Christine O’Donnell actually win in November?

Democrats dismiss 'tea party' favorite Christine O’Donnell, now the GOP Senate nominee, at their peril, say Delaware political observers.

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But, Mr. Pika notes, O’Donnell is untested in a traditional campaign involving close scrutiny and sustained give and take. “Her qualifications for office are sketchy, at best, and the extra time [six weeks] will probably stress the questions about her background,” he writes. “She ran an insurgent’s campaign based largely on emotion and volunteers. That might be sufficient in Delaware [for victory] but probably not.”

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Wilmington, Del., broadcaster Allan Loudell also suggests that Democrats need to take O’Donnell seriously heading into November, despite the political handicappers’ dismissal of her chances.

“She's become a much more polished candidate,” writes Allan Loudell of WDEL-AM radio on his blog. “If you throw the kitchen-sink at her (as the Castle campaign and the Republican establishment did), O'Donnell will accuse you of the ‘politics of destruction.’ ”

Mr. Loudell notes that that phrase is a throwback to Hillary Rodham Clinton (from her days as first lady) and, he writes, it suggests that “while O'Donnell will not betray her followers by trying to shift her ideological views, she WILL make a subtle play for the votes of women beyond her base. If the anti-O'Donnell forces pile on, she'll play victim. You watch.”

In a CNN interview the day before Tuesday's primary, O’Donnell spoke positively of Clinton “in the context of female solidarity and empowerment,” Loudell writes. “A deft move.”

The tea party movement boasts many high-profile women, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota, and Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle. And even though the GOP boasts fewer female candidates for congressional and gubernatorial seats than the Democrats, the imbalance is smaller than usual, and so 2010 has the feel of a “GOP Year of the Woman.” Ms. Angle’s continuing competitiveness against Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada, even after being ridiculed nationally for her unorthodox views, provides more evidence that O’Donnell cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Of course, Nevada is more of a swing state than Delaware, and Senator Reid is deeply unpopular at home, but there’s already ample evidence that this is an unusual year. Just ask Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts.