10, 9, 8, 7 . . . 51?
Now that the dust has settled in Delaware and the shocker in that state’s Republican senatorial primary, here’s what we know that we didn’t 48 hours ago:
1) The Democrats’ most effective rebuttal to the Tea Party might be . . . Karl Rove?
2) Or it might be Sarah Palin, whose involvement in Delaware — the fruits of her labor producing a general-election candidate with a tougher row to hoe — was characterized by Charles Krauthammer as “disruptive and capricious”.
3) At some point after Nov. 2, the GOP and the Tea Party will decide if indeed they dance a political tango in 2012 — and, if so, who leads?
4) The Republican dream of a 51-seat majority next January seems less likely, though not improbable.
5) California, with its toss-up Boxer-Fiorina race, just got a lot more important.
Here’s why . . .
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Delaware is no longer a no-brainer pickup for the GOP (think Joe Biden’s son is kicking himself for taking a pass on going for the old man’s old seat?). If so, what 10 other states offer a decent chance of a Republican pickups in the Senate?
1) North Dakota. Republican Gov. John Hoeven seems all but certain the replace the retiring Byron Dorgan, thus becoming the freshman senator most likely to obsess over Fruit of the Loom underwear.
2) Arkansas. Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln looks like a goner, given that she’s down by 17 points in some polls, and has a hard time cracking the 35% barrier. The spells buh-bye.
3) Pennsylvania. With Arlen Specter out of the way, Republican Pat Toomey seems to have the inside track.
4) Wisconsin. Bucky Badger swung both ways in the 1980 and 1986 Senate landslide elections; Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold just called for six debates — usually, the sign of a worried candidate.
8 ) Washington State. Democratic incumbent Patty Murray apparently has recovered to the point where she has a 9-point lead — a surge that has local Republicans puzzled.
9) West Virginia. A race everyone forget about, until Democratic icon Robert Byrd passed away. Paging Kathleen Harris: Mountaineer Republicans are alleging ballot hijinks.
And that leaves us with that mystical 10th state. Is it Connecticut, where pro-wrestling maven Republican Linda McMahon is the Fabulous Moolah of this year’s campaign cycle, with her cash-laden suplex?
Or, do we change our minds about Delaware?
And, what are the odds of the nine aforementioned states all cutting the Republicans’ way?
The likely scenario: without a Republican victory in California, there’s no 51st GOP seat.
Which makes the Golden State, for the first time in a very long time, terribly relevant as far as the Senate’s composition is concerned.