Surprisingly big: With 28% reporting, he leads by 30 points. He’s expected to win but not by much more than five, so expect a long, agonizing evening of watching the blue counties roll in and slowly wash away the margin.
If Martin pulls the upset, that’s 59 seats, which would mean 50 votes in Minnesota are all that separates us from filibuster Armageddon. Somewhere in Maine, a nervous Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe watch the returns, wondering just how much ass Harry Reid will end up having to kiss…
Update: The filibuster lives as the AP calls it at a little after 9 p.m. A surprise blowout: With 81% reporting, Chambliss leads by 17.
Update: Good point at Hotline. Now that a filibuster-proof majority’s unlikely, the stakes of getting Franken elected are much lower. Maybe that means the Dems will eschew the nuclear option of challenging the Senate not to seat Coleman.
Update: Whatever happens, The Hill’s reading the tea leaves of Martinez’s departure and hinting that even if the Dems haven’t beat the filibuster this time, odds are good that they’ll beat it in 2010.
Still, the fact that the GOP exodus is continuing just one month after the 2008 election is bad news for Republicans, with their deficits in both chambers appearing insurmountable in the near term and 30 House members and six senators already having retired last cycle…
The GOP also has to deal with more seats to defend (19) than Democrats (16) and a less appealing target list.
When the 111th Congress begins, four of the five oldest GOP members will be facing reelection. Most of them have already insisted they are running, but questions remain about some of them.
Update: What would black turnout have been like if The One had campaigned personally for Martin?