President Barack Obama will be making a campaign trek to Delaware next Friday even as the Senate race in that state seems more like a political freak show than an actual, tight election contest.
Recent polls have put the race firmly in the hands of Democratic candidate Chris Coons, in large part because Christine O'Donnell's defining campaign functions to date have been efforts to convince voters she's not a witch. So why then would the president, who will be joined by Delaware native, Vice President Joe Biden, use his precious time and capital on a state where little of either are needed.
The explanations run the gamut. One operative said that the White House wants to "shut the door" on the contest, while firming up a Senate ally in Coons. That same operative made the case that there would be good spill-over news coverage in neighboring Pennsylvania, where Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn) is hoping to make inroads in his own Senate race.
The more compelling explanation, however, came from a party strategist, who said that the macro-elements of Obama visit are too tempting to ignore.
"Elevating O'Donnell as the face of the Tea Party isn't a bad thing," said the strategist. "Think about the tightening [in the polls] after she got nominated. The money that started rolling in. She's Sarah Palin. She causes people to pause and say, 'Whoa, this is who the Tea Party is. Do we really want to hand them the keys to the kingdom'."
This echoes the pitch that former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe made at a briefing to reporters at the DNC on Thursday, when he argued that the Tea Party wins in individual races where having impacts across state lines. The Huffington Post, on Friday, was told reliably that even the Sestak campaign has seen improved internal polling numbers since O'Donnell won the nomination. But one prominent Democrat expressed a bit of hesitancy with the idea that elevating O'Donnell would raise the party's fortunes. "If you end up making women the object of ridicule it could end up a big mistake."