Why even bother to look at polls anymore? They all had Blanche Lincoln losing to Bill Halter...and now she's won. Whew! I'll leave it to others to analyze the winners (Bill Clinton, DSCC, Wal-Mart, 11th-hour discoveries of hidden reformist tendencies) and the losers (labor, pollsters, netroots). But having spent most of the day at a conference on financial reform, I do want to weigh in on that one.
Seems to me that one big winner tonight are proponents of tougher financial regulations, especially fans of Lincoln's provision forcing banks to spin off their derivatives business. The assumption until a few minutes ago was that Lincoln would lose and her provision would quietly get stripped in the conference committee that's about to take place. Now that she's won--and won narrowly, and faces a very tough race in the fall--the calculus becomes a lot tougher. It doesn't seem like a stretch to conclude that Lincoln eked out a win by convincing just enough voters that she was a Wall Street scourge. If her signature provision goes down in flames, she'll look toothless and weak, and almost certainly lose her seat. The bank lobby and the Obama administration (both oppose the Lincoln provision) may simply prove too strong and do the deed anyway. But their task got a whole lot harder. The markup conference will now get a lot more attention. That could be tough for Lincoln. But it will be especially tough for Democrats who wanted to kill her provision without suffering any political damage.
UPDATE: Beat the WSJ to this point by six minutes.