"Upset" and "Anti" Are The Words of the Day

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U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell speaks to her supporters after she won the Delaware U.S. Senate primary against Rep. Mike Castle on September 14, 2010 in Dover, Delaware.

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on The Brian Lehrer Show, guest host Andrea Bernstein had Nate Silver, blogger for the New York TimesFive Thirty Eight blog, and Melinda Henneberger, founder and editor-in-chief of Politics Daily, discuss the results of primaries across the country.

Top on the agenda was the upset win of Christine O'Donnell, a Tea Party and Sarah Palin backed Republican candidate in Delaware. Melinda Henneberger suggested that it was the strength of Palin's "Mama Grizzlies" that propelled O'Donnell.

"I thnk the one through-line in this cycle has been the strength of these conservative women. Not just Palin but her other "Mama Grizzlies" as she says. And I keep going back when I think of '08 to the moment in St. Paul when she bursts on the scene, and those Republican women who had not seen someone who looked like them up on that stage were in tears they were so excited. And I think a lot of what you're seeing this year is pent-up excitement from conservative women who are happy to be in the game."

But a Wilmington, DE based caller named Chuck noted that a majority of Republican women in the state supported Michael N. Castle...so we're not really sure what went down. Henneberger conceded that "women" are a hard group to define. Overall, female voters accross the country tend vote Democratic.

"It's tricky to look at "the women's vote" in general because we're the majority, we're not some tiny interest group."

Whatever combination of forces swept up O'Donnell in Deleware, Paladino in NY, and Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire last night, the one prefix that seemed to describe the winners was "anti-" Silver said.

"Whether it's an anti-Democratic year or an anti-incumbent year, or an anti-establishment year, those things all kind of overlap. And it's probably some combination of all three, it's the less satisfying but probably the right answer I would think."

Silver predicted that the Tea Party backed wins in the GOP may boost Democratic chances of keeping their majority in the Senate, but that they still have a two out of three chance of losing the House.

These new conservative figureheads may not be well-liked throughout the GOP, but just like in 2008, voters seem to be asking for change--even if that "change" isn't as cuddled in "hope" as it was two years ago. "You'd rather have the jerk you don't know in power than the one you already do" said Silver.