Michael Steele was just on local TV. He’s 11k votes up now with 38% counted, and absentees not among that. According to my source, the early call for Cardin to win was based on exit polls and past patterns. But Michael Steele has very probably broken Maryland’s past voting patterns, earning at least a quarter of the black vote. At least.

Cardin just claimed victory even as he’s fallen behind by a few thousand votes. His number one priority in a time of war–health care! Which won’t matter all that much if terrorists hit us again.

Bottom line: Steele hasn’t conceded. He can still lose, but as of now he’s ahead, calls for his defeat were premature and Cardin is still an empty suit.

Go Michael Steele!

Update: I don’t want anyone to get carried away–including Democrats like Cardin who already claim this race is in the bag. This race isn’t over.

Update: Time for a little deflation. The current numbers, which have Steele in the lead by a few thousand, have come from Maryland’s red or reddish counties. There are some big blue territories yet to be counted, and Cardin’s apparently picking them up solid. So it’s not over, but it’s looking shaky for Steele at the moment.

But don’t forget–absentees have yet to be factored in, and it’s likely that Steele is going to do better among the black vote than Republicans traditionally do in MD.

Update: Well, Maryland is a blue state, and now that the blue territories are getting counted Cardin’s jumped to a six point lead. Though the WaPo has retracted its projection for Cardin to win, CNN hasn’t and I think it’s fair to say that given which counties have and haven’t been counted, Cardin will end up winning. Unfortunately.

Caveat: According to the Steele campaign:

Steele continues to overperform in Montgomery County. The precincts in PG left outstanding are more Republican and will move us up.

There are almost 200,000 absentee ballots – a record number – that have not been counted.

That’s why they’re not conceding yet. It is mathematically possible for Steele to pull back in. It’s unlikely, but possible.