Witchcraft? Rent money? Christine O'Donnell's big problem: she's behind.

If Delaware's Senate election were held today, 'tea party'-backed Christine O'Donnell would lose, according to a just-released poll.

By , Staff writer

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    Christine O'Donnell addresses social conservatives at the Values Voter Summit in Washington last Friday.
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Christine O’Donnell’s biggest problem right now has nothing to do with an old TV clip in which she admits dabbling in witchcraft. Nor is it related to the complaint filed by a watchdog group with the Federal Election Commission on Monday which alleges that she used $20,000 in campaign funds to pay rent and other personal expenses.

No, her biggest current problem may be that if the election were today, she would lose. After all the hoopla over her stunning upset in Delaware’s GOP Senate primary, and all the free publicity she got, and all the money that’s pouring into her campaign, she remains 15 points behind Democratic opponent Chris Coons, according to a just-released Fox News poll.

That’s kind of a wake-up call for her campaign, isn’t it? And if you dig down into the results of the survey (which was conducted right after the primary, in case you’re wondering) the news for Ms. O’Donnell does not get better.

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Fully 60 percent of respondents said they did not believe O’Donnell is qualified to be a US Senator, while 60 percent said that opponent Coons is qualified.

And here’s the real burn: Mike Castle, the guy O’Donnell sent packing in the primary, appears to be the person the Delaware electorate as a whole actually wants. He’s 15 points ahead of Coons in the Fox poll, at 48 percent to 33 percent.

If there is any good news here, it is that the Delaware electorate does seem receptive to a "tea party" message, if not a tea party-backed candidate (so far). Fully 53 percent said they would prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services.

And we’ll note right here that the Fox poll was conducted via automated calling, a method that some pollsters feel is not as accurate as polls conducted by human operators. So it could be wrong.

And there is still time. A month and a half before the primary, O’Donnell was probably pretty far behind, too, and look what happened there.

Plus, GOP troops are pouring into Delaware to help the O’Donnell campaign. Her media work is now being handled by a public relations firm run by longtime Republican operative Craig Shirley. Tom Sullivan, a consultant with ties to former GOP congressman Dick Armey, is helping out as an unpaid adviser.

The campaign has attracted more than $2 million in donations since last Tuesday, O’Donnell aides say.

As to the ethics complaint filed by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, O’Donnell herself refutes it.

“The momentum surrounding this campaign is obvious. That’s why they’re creating baseless accusations to try to stop it,” she told reporters Monday night.

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