The Washington Post's political blog says it's not a choice between yes and no, but a choice between the primary election and the general election.
So in order to win the GOP primary, Chafee must not only convince a cavalcade of independents to support him but also take a chunk of traditional Republican votes. With that calculation in mind, one source close to the Chafee campaign said the the senator "can survive a 'yes' [on Alito] vote a lot easier in the general election than he can survive a 'no' vote in the primary election."
So does Chafee vote "yes" in hopes of locking up a primary victory, thus putting his general election chances in doubt? Or does he vote "no" and live with the consequences? We will know soon. The full Senate is expected to vote on the Alito nomination as early as next week.
One of his staffers says, politically, it's a "lose-lose situation," but that Chafee will disregard politics and vote his conscience. Hmmm.