UPDATE: John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics says, Don’t Be Surprised to See a Filibuster.
Initially, I thought a filibuster would be very unwise for the Democrats because it would gin up the Republican base and it was a fight that they at the end of the day simply don’t have the cards to win. However, Democrats want to keep their based fired up and they want to display a willingness to confront Bush and the GOP. A rerun of the Roberts hearings ending with a 58-42 vote for Alito (as opposed to 78-22 for Roberts) is nothing but a loser to their base and a huge conservative victory. The 5-4 majority conservative decisions Alito will be part of for the next 25-30 years won’t contain an asterisk at the bottom saying he only received 55 votes in the Senate.
Even though the odds are that a sustained filibuster would be met with a
change in the Senate rules and Alito’s ultimate confirmation, an argument can be made that strategically it is good political move for the Democrats….
Win or lose, a filibuster would energize the Democrats' base, and even if they fail to stop Alito's confirmation....how much have they really lost? They could say correctly that Alito was going to get through anyway….
The Democrats have nothing to lose with a filibuster. They can force the Republicans to trigger the “nuclear option.” Then they can paint this as an unprecedented action that the Republicans did because they are in thrall to their extremist right-wing base. I can already hear Senator Byrd orating about it.
As John McIntyre concludes,
If we don't see a filibuster, I suspect that would be an indication that the Democrats are weaker and more divided than is commonly thought in Washington.