by Max Brantley
With 4 big early vote boxes counted, Blanche Lincoln is leading Bill Halter 54-46, according to Channel 7. But wait don't blow it off: That represents 28,000 votes, or well more than 10 percent of the expected total vote tonight.
Funny things could happen. But unless the angry voters in southern Arkansas turn out in force again, I think somebody might want to dust off that Comeback Kid label.
Then we'll have a whole host of things to consider: Groupthink by national media; the value of a Bill Clinton endorsement; the lack of value of a ground game of phone callls and door knocking (particularly if it's done by organized labor); the worth of labor bashing in the Arkansas candidate's tool kit; the enduring value of being the Father of the Arkansas Lottery; the value of personality in a political race; the value of political polling (last public tally had it Halter 49-45); and so on.
I know this is mighty premature. But I thought I'd start throat-clearing for apologies. And then we can start pounding Senator Lincoln on the awful position she's taken on the Murkowski pro-dirty air bill. Environmentalists thought this was another nail in Lincoln's coffin.
(If this early vote proves a trend, then welcome Joyce Elliott as the 2nd District Democratic nominee and Pat O'Brien and L.J. Bryant as nominees for secretary of state and land commissioner. This vote has Chad Causey up on Tim Wooldridge, too. Should that hold, he'll owe Marion Berry a hug around the neck and Berry's influence in that district couldn't have hurt Lincoln either.)