By Andrew Mangino

LINCOLN, Neb., 10:47 p.m. — Scott Kleeb GRD ’06, the Yale scholar turned rancher turned politician, has been defeated by former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns in his bid to succeed Chuck Hagel in the United States Senate, according to network projections.

At the Kleeb headquarters here, the news hardly generated a buzz, as Lisa Hannah, Kleeb’s chair in Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District put it, “I’m kind of not surprised.”

Initial polls had placed Kleeb upwards of 20 points behind his opponent.

Martha Davies, a volunteer from Lincoln, said she has always known after observing Kleeb’s career at the Yale Graduate School, where he earned his master’s and doctorate in history, that he was right for the job and will still go on in a future election to win.  But she’s not counting out tonight’s election, either.

“I’m still hopeful,” she said. “Numbers do funny things, and i wont believe it until the last vote in nerbaska is counted.”

Neither candidate has emerged to speak as the western districts of Nebraska — which tend to lean Republican — have largely not yet been reported.

The mood, meanwhile, was upbeat five blocks away at Johanns’ headquarters at the Embassy Suites hotel.  Even before the projections of the former governor’s win, his campaign appeared confident.  In an e-mail to the News early Tuesday morning, a campaign spokeswoman called Tuesday night’s event a “victory party.”