In some ways this was an easy one for the White House. The president's party controls the Senate by a filibuster-proof majority, the White House selected a nominee with great political symbolism for Hispanics, and Sotomayor had twice been vetted by the Congress over 17 years on the federal bench.
She's not likely to have a huge impact on the Court's ideological makeup because in some ways she's the same sort of moderate liberal that her predecessor, David Souter was. And you can even argue that she is likely to be MORE conservative than he was in certain kinds of cases, like business or law enforcement cases.
The real test for the White House and the Congress will come when the President of one party has to overcome a Senate controlled by members of the other party. That didn't happen here, it didn't happen with Justices Alito or Roberts, either, and if it DOES happen down the road we WILL the sort of political bloodbath we haven't seen since the Bork and Thomas confirmations.