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Washington Matters

Don't Be Surprised If Wisconsin Surprises

If there's one thing we know about cheeseheads -- which is how many Wisconsin voters like to describe themselves -- they pride themselves on being ornery and don't like anybody (especially the media) telling them how they'll vote. Keep that in mind Tuesday....


Most pundits and reporters are writing about the


Not so fast. Wisconsin is known for its independent streak, and those voters who may be having buyers' remorse about John McCain or new doubts about Barack Obama may put a hold on the rush to crown winners. Adding to the uncertainty is the wide-open nature of the primary. There is no party registration, so anyone can vote in either race, and even brand new voters can participate by signing up on the spot. Voters can even register a protest (or show their ignorance) by voting for one of the candidates no longer in the race -- everyone from Mitt Romney and Duncan Hunter to Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich are still on the ballot.


So it shouldn't be a shock if Obama and McCain stumble a bit tomorrow. In fact, one recent poll shows the Democratic race in the dairy state leaning to Clinton, and McCain's lead in the polls over Huckabee is within the margin of error, as many conservatives continue to show their doubts over the all-but-certain nominee.


What will surprise a lot of people is how rapidly the dynamics of the Democratic race would shift IF Clinton does defeat Obama in a state she nearly skipped. Gone would be the dreadful week of bad news and miscues. Instead, headlines and cable news will be filled with yet another Clinton revival and questioning whther Obama has peaked (again). Did he hurt himself with his refusal to debate in Wisconsin? Did Clinton score a bullseye and deflate Obama with her constant refrain of "words don't matter"? If that happens, though, don't take such a swing in sentiment too seriously -- the media megaphone creates an air of inevitability that often proves all but inevitable. But do take a Hillary victory seriously. That would put her right back in the race.


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