One of my friends just emailed me, and in the process of asking me if I’d go to Pennsylvania with the Young Lawyers for Obama crew, challenged my pessimism about Obama’s chances in the Keystone State, wondering if I’d had the hope boiled out of me by the long primary season. 

I’d love to win Pennsylvania — if Sen. Obama wins there, the campaign ends there. I mean it; I fully expect Hillary Clinton to withdraw later that week if she loses Pennsylvania.

That said, we can still win without “winning”. The current expectation isn’t that Clinton’s got to win Pennsylvania, it’s that she’s got to win Pennsylvania, meaning that she’s got to crush Obama. If the margin of victory for Hillary Clinton on April 22 is, say, 53%-47%, she’ll have “lost” Pennsylvania without actually losing.

That sets up Indiana and North Carolina on May 6th to end the primary campaign, since those are states that are actually winnable by Sen. Obama.  

The best way, in my opinion, to think of Pennsylvania is that it’s as important to her as South Carolina was to Obama. Just as Obama had to win decisively in South Carolina, Clinton has to win just as decisively in Pennsylvania. 

My fear isn’t that we’ll lose Pennsylvania; I take that as a given. It’s that we’ll get crushed in Pennsylvania, despite our efforts. So, I don’t see the polls as evidence that we’ll actually win in Pennsylvania; I see them as evidence (circumstantial at best, but evidence none the less) that the primary campaign is in it’s final throes.

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