Wait a sec. Didn’t Harry Reid nuke the filibuster for presidential appointees a few months ago? Why, indeed he did, which means Republicans had no hope of stopping this confirmation by themselves. They’d need at least six Democrats to cross the aisle to get to 51 no’s. And given how humiliating that would be for The One, no one expected it to happen. Joe Biden was apparently standing by in the chamber today to provide the 51st yes, just in case five Dems got cold feet and the final tally ended up 50/50.

Eight Democrats voted no, although Reid was among them only to preserve his ability to move to reconsider the nomination later if need be. Nomination defeated.

Six of the key seven there make sense: Casey, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, Pryor, and Walsh are all either red- or purple-staters and therefore leery of cuddling up to a guy who’s known for having defended Mumia Abu-Jamal. Coons is the outlier. He’s from deep-blue Delaware and doesn’t face reelection for another two years. They didn’t even need his vote ultimately to kill the nomination. Can’t wait to find out what that’s about. Could be that the shooting of Daniel Faulkner was simply too close to home: It happened in Philadelphia, just across the border from Delaware. Delawareans may be liberal on most issues, but not quite all.

Another surprise is some of the red-state Democrats who did vote yes, including/especially red-staters who are up in November. What on earth were Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan, who’s rocking a 33 percent approval rating these days in North Carolina, thinking? Better yet, what were Obama and Reid thinking in forcing people like Landrieu and Hagan to choke on this vote when they weren’t sure they had 51 in the bank to confirm? Why not just pull the nomination and admit defeat? Something’s up here. Did a bunch of Democrats surprise Reid by switching at the last second? Or maybe Reid knew that some were on the fence but figured that they’d never, ever stab Obama in the back if he called their bluff and made them vote on it. Surprise.

In related news, Barack Obama is a very lame duck.

Update: There was indeed a last-minute flip. Who?