I'm not writing off the primary challengers. Who knows? But it's not likely any of them will knock him off.
What is clear though, is that DeLay is running a smart campaign on the ground.
He’s using a relatively new, innovative micro-targeting approach to ID’ing voters and determining which message moves which voter by compiling significant amount of information from and on voters, matching that commercially available data, and grafting it on to, I assume, analytic public opinion research.
The Chronicle story linked above gives a window in, and the reporter, Samantha Levine, grasps the technique relatively well. DeLay’s campaign is state of the art, and expensive, but it means that every dollar he spends on voter contact from now on is very efficient. Unless Lampson is doing the same or is able to raise massive amounts of money for boatloads broadcast, this is a sign of trouble.
Here's one example of how to read between the lines. The last part of the story:
The next phase for DeLay, who's favored in the primary, is a "long and sustained voter education" program. That will include comparing Democratic candidate former Rep. Nick Lampson to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Californian who leads the Democrats in the House and is a lightning rod for Republican ire.
When asked whether voters in the 22nd District know who Pelosi is, [DeLay campaign manager Chris] Homan said he knows they do.
"I've done polling on her," he said.
It’s not that all voters know about Pelosi. No way. That's the wrong question. It's which voters care about Pelosi. DeLay’s team, through polling and regression/discriminate analysis, have likely identified key voting blocs in Lampson’s base who move when they hear a message tying Lampson to Pelosi.
This window into DeLay’s campaign shows that this old dog learned some new tricks and that he’s willing to give over the campaign to pros. And it lends itself very well to someone who has to rehabilitate his imagewith voters, particularly because of his personal betrayal of them.