Sotomayor expected to be confirmed today

The Senate will likely vote today on whether to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as a Justice of the Supreme Court. 31 Republicans have announced that they will vote not to confirm her. One Republican, Sen. Voinovich, says he’s still undecided. The eight who have said they will vote for confirmation are Alexander, Bond, Collins, Graham, Gregg, Lugar, Martinez, and Snowe
My understanding is that no Democrats will vote “no.” However, I don’t know whether Senators Byrd and Kennedy will be able to vote.
Thus, it appears that 66-69 Senators will vote in favor of Sotomayor and that this will include less than one-fourth of the Republican caucus.
Some readers might be wondering why I’ve been following the head count so closely. Why, it is fair to ask, does it matter whether the Sotomayor nomination garners 66 votes as opposed to, say, 76?
I think it matters because of the signal the final count sends to President Obama. If he understands that Republicans are no longer granting much deference to the president’s selection, and will resist confirming left-liberal nominees even when they are relatively appealing minority group members, then he may think twice about sending up a nominee as liberal, or more so, than Sotomayor when the next vacancy arises.
This hope may be a longshot while the Dems hold 60 Senate seats. But the next time Obama has the opportunity to nominate a Justice, the Republicans may occupy significantly more seats. In that event, the Sotomayor vote suggests that, if Obama sends up a hard-core liberal, that nominee may not be confirmed.
UPDATE: The Senate has confirmed Judge Sotomayor by a vote of 68-31. Sen. Kennedy was unable to vote.