Indiana is almost certain to vote for Mitt Romney on Election Day, but the Hoosier State may very well elect Democrat Joe Donnelly to the Senate. Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party candidate who defeated longtime Republican Sen. Dick Lugar in a primary, is trailing Donnelly by 11 points in a new poll released by Howey/DePauw University. It's a stunning fall for Mourdock, who recently torpedoed his own campaign by bafflingly declaring that pregnancies resulting from rape were "something God intended to happen." With Election Day almost here, many say Mourdock simply does not have enough time to catch up. "It's all over but the crying," said Republican pollster Christine Matthews.
Mourdock and Todd Akin of Missouri, who also made a boneheaded comment about rape and pregnancy, have possibly cost the GOP two seats that the party should have picked up easily. It now seems highly unlikely that Republicans will regain control of the Senate, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post:
Republicans' path to majority status on Nov. 6 grows increasingly narrow. Republicans must now win all five states we currently rate as "tossups" AND win one of the states we currently rate as "lean Democratic" simply to get the Senate to a 50-50 tie. (Republicans would have control under that scenario only if Mitt Romney was elected president.)
Those are decidedly long odds — particularly when Republicans came into the cycle defending just 10 seats as compared to 23 for Democrats.
If the Democrats hold on to the Senate, they can thank the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, which continues to use the primary process to push through far-right conservatives (remember Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell?) that end up losing in the general election, says Mark Kogan at PolicyMic:
The important question for Republicans to answer will be whether their home-grown monster is something worth keeping around. While the outrage and grassroots outreach provided by the Tea Party has provided an undeniable level of energy for the GOP, the handicapping of the party among the general electorate at the national level is sure to be making party leadership very nervous. How the party adjusts to this latest series of unforced errors will help determine whether Republicans may have a better shot in 2014 or whether we will see further Republican losses in both the House and the Senate.