Given voters’ experiences with exit polls in the two most recent elections, journalists are right to warn about their potential to mislead, usually in favor of Democratic candidates. Once the real results start coming in, there may be some indicators of how things are going to go, nationwide. If both George Allen in Virginia and Michael Steele in Maryland are doing well, Republicans have reason for optimism. But if it’s James Webb and Ben Cardin, the opposite is true. And if Virginia’s going Republican and Maryland going Democrat, it would seem to be a pretty par-for-the-course election — and hard to call until later.

Even so, it’s worth pointing out that with a mid-term second election, a somewhat divided base, an unpopular President, a difficult war, $3 gas earlier in the year, and assorted ethics and sex scandals, it’s amazing that the election is even in play. That may be because Democrats have offered nothing to inspire confidence in their leadership, as even uber-liberal Michael Kinsley concedes.