Voters in 7 states and the District of Columbia will head to the polls Tuesday, in what will be the last major primary before midterm election day on November 2nd. One state that's being closely watched is Delaware, where Christine O'Donnell is competing against Congressman Mike Castle in the state's Republican Senate primary.
Recent polling from Rasmussen Reports gives Castle a thirty point advantage over O'Donnell, a gap some political analysts think she can overcome, despite some image setbacks during her campaign.
In recent weeks, O'Donnell has faced questions surrounding her finances and college education. O'Donnell officially earned her diploma from Farleigh Dickinson University earlier this month, even though she attended the school more than twenty years ago. Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst at Real Clear Politics says in spite of setbacks, "in the year of the Tea Party, anything can happen in Delaware." O'Donnell is backed by the Tea Party Express, the same group that helped Joe Miller to victory over Senator Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's Republican Senate primary.
Also buoyed by recent endorsements from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and the National Rifle Association, Trende says O'Donnell is in a "competitive situation" against Castle. If accurate, an impressive feat given Castle is a long-established candidate who "has had a chance to prepare" for a race against O'Donnell.
While O'Donnell's high profile endorsements lend publicly to her candidacy, Trende cautions her own public profile is smaller within the state, something that could help Castle in Delaware "where he's probably met most of the citizens over the course of his career."
The winner of Tuesday's vote will go on to face Democrat Chris Coons. Polling data of a match-up between Castle and Coons gives Castle an eleven point lead over Coons, while a pairing of Coons versus O'Donnell puts Coons ahead by 11 points heading into November.
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