By Marc Cooper

Zero hour in Pennsylvania.

Or is it? We've had to somehow fill the gap of the six weeks since the last primary, so we've sort of convinced ourselves that something momentous is about to happen Tuesday in Pennsylvania. Fact is, it's highly unlikely that the results of the voting will have some game-changing impact on the underlying fundamentals i.e. that Hillary Clinton is running close behind but definitively in second place to Barack Obama and, further, that is precisely the way the nomination process will end.

You can spin this stuff anyway you please but we're going to wind up always at the same point of departure –or if you prefer– terminus: in America we have a simple tradition of declaring as winner whomever it is who gets the most votes, in some cases directly. In other cases, by count of delegate or elector. Period.

I fully expect Hillary Clinton to win Pennsylvania by as many as 10 points, perhaps more. When and if she does, she will pick up a net gain of a handful or two of delegates. And then, two weeks from now, she will lose them again in North Carolina and, most likely, in Indiana. That's her best case scenario. The worst case is an Iowa redux in which a surge of new Pennsylvania voters will cut deep into her margin of victory thereby effectively ending the race on Wednesday instead of two weeks from now.

In the meantime, the media has invented a now universal fairy tale about some dark, mysterious, almost primeval region known as Pennsylvania. How many times have we now heard that it is somehow exempt from the rest of America and is inhabited, instead, by some strange exceptional species of hairy-arm-pitted near-humans with sloping foreheads who spend their days dragging bowling balls through the woods and then waste away their nights oiling their .12 gauges and knocking back brewskies. Oh yes, and they're all sort of grumbling blue-collar trolls who wistfully wallow in the nostalgia of shuttered assembly lines and Sunday afternoon trade union picnics off limits to uppity Nee-grows and Messicans.

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