If one Democrat’s loss could be seen a mile away this year, it was that of Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Representing a state that has lagged its Southern neighbors—despite sharing their conservative views—in switching to the GOP in state races, but that favored John McCain by 20 points in 2008, Lincoln was always at the top of the Republicans’ hit list. As far back as May, when she was still engaged in a close primary fight with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, Lincoln’s first televised campaign commercial—aimed at the general election—checked every possible Democrat-distancing box: it attacked Washington’s partisan culture and profligate spending, health-care and energy reform, and some of Obama’s signature measures to save the economy. The ad cleverly portrays Washington as a room full of children attacking each other and throwing “your tax dollars” around. “This is why I voted against giving more money to Wall Street, against the auto-company bailout, against the public-option health-care plan, and against the cap-and-trade bill that would have raised energy costs on Arkansans … Some in my party didn’t like it very much,” says Lincoln. “I don’t answer to my party, I answer to Arkansas.” Consider it throwing a Hail Mary—that didn’t connect. Polls consistently show her far behind her Republican opponent, John Boozman.