If Blanche Lincoln thinks she can rally in three weeks and win a runoff election against Bill Halter, she simply is blind to the import of what happened last night in the US Senate.

Among the Republican obstruction, the Democratic facilitation through a cloture vote, etc., Chris Dodd brought up a weakening amendment to Lincoln’s derivatives bill, which would delay for two years the spinning off of the lucrative swaps trading desks from the big banks. Dodd’s now calling it “just a proposal”, but it goes into the manager’s amendment, which is the final hurdle for passing a bill that the leadership wants to pass.

Lincoln vowed to oppose such a measure, but she obviously takes her constituents for hayseeds. It was completely obvious that Lincoln was fed the derivatives bill to change her image as a Wall Street sellout into an image of a Jacksonian throwback populist in advance of a tough election. That election has now been extended by three weeks. But the White House and the Democrats had a schedule to keep, so they spent THE NIGHT OF THE ELECTION performing the scheduled action of undermining the fake-populist bill.

As I’ve been saying for a week, the runoff was the best possible outcome, because it made clear what the game plan was. If the Democrats push forward with gutting the derivatives piece, they end Lincoln’s career. It’s simply too cynical for words for her to position herself as a “fighter” of Wall Street after the kabuki show of that bill. So the fact that she now has to pretend to be a populist until June 8 actually has the potential of saving this part of the bill.

But not saving Lincoln. The game plan is too obvious, and a competent campaign – Halter’s performance from yesterday suggests he has one – will exploit it with ease. Blanche Lincoln wrote a bill that she knew wouldn’t pass to present herself in a certain way.

This cynical practice, by the way, is the REASON Lincoln and other incumbents are getting beaten with regularity. The elites have failed completely, and the public has caught on.

…Just by the numbers, Halter would need only 60% of the DC Morrison vote, which also was anti-incumbent, to win the runoff. And in a low-turnout affair, his voters are more likely to show up. But the narrative of the race is now about Blanche Lincoln trying to snooker Arkansas voters into thinking she was a crusading Wall Street reformer. Voters don’t like to be lied to.