Christine O'Donnell Falls to Chris Coons

Delaware Republican U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell leaves the voting booth after casting her ballot, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Wilmington, Del. O'Donnell is facing Democrat Chris Coons. Complete Coverage: Campaign 2010 AP Photo/Rob Carr

Democrat Chris Coons trounced Republican Christine O'Donnell by a 56% to 40% margin in a special election to win the Delaware Senate seat that Vice President Joe Biden had occupied for more than 30 years.

Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell responds to Democratic candidate Chris Coons during a televised Delaware Senate debate Oct. 13, 2010.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

"Thank you, Delaware Democrats," Coons said to a room full of celebrating supporters in Wilmington. "Thank you, Delaware."

He pledged to "all the working families across Delaware that I will work tirelessly to get our nation and our state back on track."

Coons thanked O'Donnell in his speech as he alluded to the sharp differences between them during the election campaign. But he nonetheless held out an olive branch to his defeated rival and her supporters. "I am convinced that Ms. O'Donnell worked her heart out because she loves this country," he said. Speaking directly to supporters, Coons said that even if he did not win their votes, he hoped to have a chance "to win your respect and your partnership."

He said that the vote was a vote of confidence that "our ideas are the right ones to grow our economy and to get our state and our people back on track."

In recent days, Coons' lead had widened to double digits. However, earlier today there were worries about low turnouts in some areas and by midday the Coons campaign sent out an email to supporters urging them to get to vote.

At first blush, O'Donnell seemed to be a very unlikely candidate. Yet in the Republican primary she stunned the pundits, O'Donnell received solid support from the state's tea party movement and went on to defeat congressman and former Delaware governor Mike Castle. She was also aided by endorsements from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as well as South Carolina's Jim DeMint.

Delaware Senate Vote by County

But once the Senate contest with Coons got underway, O'Donnell had to confront myriad questions raised by her youthful foray into witchcraft, her thoughts on evolution and her stance on masturbation. The television ad she chose to start her candidacy with began with the unconventional explanation, "I''m not a witch."

O'Donnell was also put on the defensive after she was shown describing evolution as "a myth" in a 1998 appearance on the ABC series, "Politically Incorrect."

You can follow CBSNews.com's full coverage of Campaign 2010 here.

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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