By Frank James
The polls closed a few minutes ago in Massachusetts and we're all awaiting the results. Judging from the scenes on cable news, however, it looks like supporters of Scott Brown, the Republican state senator, are expecting a win while those of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley are preparing for the worst.
If Brown wins, one of the big ironies will be that the president, who was a relatively unknown state senator just a few years ago, will have suffered one of the largest setbacks since he became president, to a similarly relatively unknown state senator.
Also, if Brown wins, it will once again prove that in politics you can't beat something with nothing. Brown was an attractive candidate with an anti-Washington message. Anti-Washington messages tend to be attractive to voters, especially during mid-year elections.
If Coakley loses, it may not only be because of voter antipathy to Democrats' efforts at health care reform but also because she apparently didn't realize until too late that she was running not just against Brown but against the public mood.
She ran a frontrunner's campaign, even taking time off over the holidays at the very time Brown was gaining traction.
CNN is now reporting that with one percent, repeat one percent of the vote counted, about 13,000 votes, Brown was leading Coakley 54 percent to 45 percent.
There apparently isn't any exit polling tonight so the media vote counters will be looking at the electoral margins in certain key bellwether districts before calling the election.
Update at 8:37 pm ET -- With more than 10 percent of precincts counted, the Associated Press is reporting Brown leads Coakley 53 percent to 46 percent. (Keep refreshing the AP page to get the latest results.)
The Boston Globe has results and is coloring in a map with results that are coming in more slowly than AP's.
Update at 8:46 pm ET -- With nearly 30 percent of the vote reported, Brown is leading 52 percent to 47 percent. Less than 10 percent of Boston's precincts are in however and there Coakley has a fairly large lead, 56 percent to 43 percent.
Update at 8:59 pm ET -- More than 40 percent of the vote is in. Brown 53 percent, Coakley 46 percent.
Update at 9:01 pm ET -- 56.9 percent of the vote is in. Brown is still at 53 percent and Coakley is still at 46 percent.
Update 9:09 pom ET -- Nearly 60 percent of the vote is in. The percentages remain unchanged.
Update 9:15 pm ET -- With 65 percent of the vote counted, the percentages are unchanged 53 percent to 46 percent. Despite Coakley having a commanding lead in Boston, Brown is still leading. Coakley appears to be running out of voters to sustain her Senate hopes.
Update 9:21 pm ET -- About 72 percent of the vote is counted and Brown holds the same lead. It's looking like the pollsters who saw Brown with a solid lead heading into Tuesday were right.
Update at 9:25 pm ET -- The AP has called the race, as has CNN and other media outlets, for Brown. He is the first Republican to win a Senate seat from Massachusetts since 1972 when Edward Brooke was elected senator.