Charles Cameron and John Kastellec discussed How an Obama Supreme Court nominee could win confirmation in the Senate in The Monkey Cage column of The Washington Post. The historical pattern that emerged from their work led them to question whether a nominee less conservative than Kennedy could have a real chance at confirmation,
"[Our] exercise may be overly optimistic about how many Republicans would support an Obama nominee. On the other hand, the shrewd pick of a nominee with attractive attributes beyond legal qualifications – such as being a woman or an underrepresented minority – could garner more votes than our model predicts.
The statistical evidence won’t allow a definitive prediction, needless to say. But a highly qualified moderate with other attractive attributes might still thread the confirmation needle, if only barely."