NPR logo Tea Party's Christine O'Donnell 15 Points Behind Chris Coons

The Tea Party In America

Tea Party's Christine O'Donnell 15 Points Behind Chris Coons

Chris Coons, Democratic candidate for a Delaware U.S. Senate seat  visited volunteers at his campaign headquarters in Wilmington. Jessica Kourkounis/AP Photo hide caption

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Jessica Kourkounis/AP Photo

Chris Coons, the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat in Delaware, may not have the national name recognition of his Republican opponent, Christine O'Donnell, the nation's latest political celebrity.

But he has something more important at this point, a 15-point lead in the latest Fox News poll over the Tea Party-backed candidate. And that's with only 41 days before the mid-term election.

And not only that, it seems like Delawareans for the most part, have their minds made up.

As Fox News explains in its web report on the poll:

O'Donnell's challenge comes from the fact that most voters say they are "certain" of their choice, including 91 percent of those who plan to vote for Coons and 85 percent who say they'll back O'Donnell.

With only 11 percent of voters considering themselves persuadable, O'Donnell will be hard pressed to close the gap.

Anything can happen in politics; that's why they hold elections. But to overcome a 15-point margin at this point in a race usually takes an opponent's candidacy imploding or an awesome TV and radio air campaign funded by a ceaseless supply of money.

Delaware Republican Senate candidate ChristineO' Donnell, center, answers media questions at the Sussex County Republican Committee Picnic in Lincoln, DE. Jessica Kourkounis/AP Photo hide caption

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Jessica Kourkounis/AP Photo

Decisions on whether to pour resources into a campaign are typically made by political realists who ask if the money is worth spending. They usually look at the polls to help reach the answer.

Needless to say, a 15-point difference and the strong degree to which voters' minds appear settled in this race is the kind of information that could weigh on the minds of Republican strategists trying to decide where best to direct money in the remaining weeks.

It also puts more pressure on Sarah Palin whose support for O'Donnell in the primaries helped her win decisively against the more moderate Rep. Mike Castle.

Karl Rove, the Republican political strategist who has publicly raised questions about O'Donnell's finances and "nutty" statements, has challenged Palin to essentially put her money where her mouth by visiting Delaware, helping O'Donnell to raise money and spending her own money on her protegee's race.

Will she do that given the current state of the race? A lot of Palin watchers will be waiting for that answer.

O'Donnell also isn't helped in closing the polling gap by the questions surrounding her use of campaign funds. Those questions led the non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to call for a federal investigation into the way she has spent campaign cash.