More on Meirs
Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Todd Zywicki has some insights. To sum it up:
The conservative side split reflects a certain split between electoral-oriented conservatives (the religious right, etc.) which is content with a Justice they figure will vote their way, and the non-electoral conservatives (Federalist Society, etc.) who see legal change as a long-term change in ideas, and thus favor judges who have won their spurs, intellectually speaking, in conservative legal thinking. For the former is -- if it works, you get the 5-4 you need, don't complain. Besides, someone with well-established conservative credentials is going to catch flak for them. For the latter is --a person who can change patterns of legal thinking (on the Court and elsewhere) is more valuable than one more vote, and one without an established legal philosphy is more apt to shift leftward later in their career.
Another insight: under a bipartisan agreement worked out, Judiciary Committee cannot refuse to report out the nomination. It goes to the Senate floor no matter what. On the other hand, a negative vote and recommendation against (or even a tie and no recommendation) will shrink odds of confirmation massively.
A third: with a nominee like Roberts, little things tended to be ignored. But with one lacking many of his attributes, little things come up. No one would have worried about typos or sloppy wording with Roberts, but they're already pointing out those in her documents. Once a theme gets established in the media (Pres. Ford's clumsiness, Dan Quayle's cluelessness, although he really was clueless), that's all you'll hear (because writing stories on that takes so little effort).
A fourth: people who have heard her speak are worried about the confirmation hearings. And given the situation, her hearings are going to be critical. Previous Justices faced a lot less partisanship. Roberts faced it, but had sufficient credentials to where it didn't all hang on the hearings.