I haven’t been following the New Jersey governor’s race very closely, but GOP contender Chris Christie’s recent slide in the polls certainly seems noteworthy. If incumbent John Corzine can somehow pull this out, that would be a real sign of what lousy shape the GOP is in politically.
After all, when you’ve got an opposition incumbent as unpopular as Corzine running amidst an economic catastrophe, those are the races you’re supposed to win. If you can’t hold on to a lead in the polls that just goes to show that your party’s brand has become totally toxic in the state in question. Twenty years ago, New Jersey was a solidly conservative state. Mike Dukakis got 42 percent of the vote there, less than Obama got in South Carolina.
A related issue will be the Delaware Senate race. Republicans have persuaded Mike Castle, probably the least-conservative member of the House GOP caucus, to challenge Beau Biden for the seat. Castle is super-popular in Delaware and stands a good chance of winning. But obviously the Republican leadership as a whole is very much not popular in Delaware. Will Castle be able to persuade people that he won’t just be a lockstep obstructionist? If he wins, will he deliver on that promise and build a more robust moderate wing of his party’s caucus? Or will his popularity melt away in the cold light of a campaign?