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Chafee's Win a Boost to Senate GOP

Chafee's win yesterday is good news for GOP chances of holding the Senate, as the more conservative Laffey would have had no chance of winning the general in November. In our pre-primary analysis we suggested that a "solid win" by Chafee would be good news for GOP prospects of holding this seat. And while 54% - 46% is certainly not an overwhelming result in a primary for an incumbent Senator, given the trends we have seen of incumbents going down in neighboring Connecticut and then earlier this year in Pennsylvania state races, we would characterize last night's margin as a "solid" result for Chafee. Fellow Northeastern, moderate Arlen Specter scraped by in his primary two years ago, 51% - 49%.

As the head-on-head polling with state Attorney General Whitehouse indicates (Chafee leads by 0.3% in the latest RCP Average), this race now looks to be a clear toss-up with roughly 50 days remaining. Chafee will get a boost both from his win and the manner in which he won. The fact that hard-core conservatives may be mad with him is not exactly a negative heading into a general election this year in Rhode Island. However, this is clearly a Democratic state in a part of the country where anti-Bush sentiment runs extremely high. Chafee will have to run the better campaign to win.