The Senate Armed Services Committee, which returns to work on Thursday, is expected to vote on Hagel’s nomination soon. If the votes aren’t there, GOP sources say, Democrats will push to postpone the vote for a few days. But Democrats aren’t breaking, the sources add, either in the cloakroom or in public. …

But Hagel’s hearing, though poor, has not crippled his candidacy. Vocal support from prominent Democrats will probably guarantee him the spot at the Pentagon.

“Once Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer gave their blessing, we were basically screwed, because that gave cover to any of the Democrats that had concerns about Israel,” says another Republican aide familiar with the proceedings. “I think there’s no stopping this train now.”

“There was a lot of chatter — particularly on the otherside — that he really tanked; but the chatter was, ‘He tanked but he’ll still get confirmed,’” the source adds.