Primary Anxiety: Major GOP Battles Tighten Late

Posted: Sep 13, 2010 8:36 AM
As voters in seven states and the District of Columbia prepare to cast their primary election ballots tomorrow, candidates in a number of high-profile races are feeling the heat as the latest round of polls show some uncomfortably tight margins.

New York - No matter who wins the Republican gubernatorial primary tomorrow, he'll immediately claim the underdog mantle against the heavily-favored Democrat, Andrew Cuomo.  Many top Republicans in the Empire State, including popular former Governor George Pataki and Rudy Giuliani, believe Rick Lazio (who famously lost a 2000 Senate race to Hillary Clinton) provides the party with its best shot at an upset. But the latest Siena poll shows Buffalo multi-millionaire Carl Paladino trailing Lazio by the thinnest of margins, 43-42.  If Upstate turnout is particularly strong, Paladino could pull off a stunner.

New Hampshire - Public Policy Polling has the Granite State's Republican Senate primary within single digits, with strong conservative Ovide Lamontagne nipping at the heels of front runner Kelly Ayotte (Ayotte leads 37-30).  Prominent conservatives are split on this race, as evidenced by Sarah Palin's endorsement of Ayotte and Jim DeMint's last-minute statement of support for Lamontagne.  Ayotte has demonstrated a consistent lead over Democrat Paul Hodes in general election polls.

Delaware - This race has become a national touchstone, setting off a fierce debate on the Right about the nature of "true conservatism" and over whom to support.  Rep. Mike Castle has won the endorsement of conservative figures such as NJ Governor Chris Christie and radio host Hugh Hewitt, while hard-charging conservative Christine O'Donnell has been boosted in recent days by 11th hour endorsements from Palin, DeMint, and the NRA.  Meanwhile, more questions are being raised about O'Donnell's past, as her supporters go on the attack themselves. PPP says this race is too close to call (with O'Donnell now slightly ahead) and may come down to turnout.  In a potentially ominous sign for Castle--who remains the favorite to win--53 percent of Delaware primary voters call him "too liberal."   Electability may also factor in to many undecided voters' decisions tomorrow, and Castle has a clear edge over O'Donnell on that front.