Groundhog Day in Pennsylvania

(CBS)

From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

NEW YORK -- After weeks of double-digit leads in what has become the biggest prize for Hillary Clinton's survival in the nomination process, Pennsylvania, her lead now seems to be shrinking. New polls indicate Clinton's lead over Barack Obama in the Keystone State may be as close as 6 points. Sound familiar?

"I don't really pay attention to any polls because they are just snapshots in time and you don't want to really rely on them," she said, recycling her standard answer to polling questions. "You just have to get up everyday and work as hard as possible." (Clinton's staff, however, certainly pays attention to polls, oftentimes pointing out new numbers or trends favorable to their candidate to the press.)

Clinton is now less than two weeks away from yet another contest that may decide her fate in this race. Campaign staffers say Clinton will campaign tirelessly between now and the April 22nd primary, and many have hinted that we shouldn't expect to get home much before primary day.

This is the umpteenth contest now where Clinton finds herself either with a small lead or just trailing her opponent, and for each of the previous contests, both Clinton and her staff dusted off the 'underdog' card and played it right on cue.

"I always believed this was going to be a close race," Clinton said. "Clearly, Senator Obama has invested enormous amount of time and money in Pennsylvania, so he is running full speed toward April 22nd. He's outspending me two, maybe three to one in the state, so I am working as hard as I can to win the votes of the people of Pennsylvania."

The race has, again, quickly become a game of expectations. It is about lowering the bar and making her opponent seem as though he is unstoppable in a state she once led by 20 points. A similar strategy was invoked in Ohio and California, states Clinton later won handily.

Whether or not Clinton's outlook on the state of the race in Pennsylvania is a show for the cameras is unclear, but what is clear is that we can expect to see the same strategy play out in Pennsylvania, and the contests to come. Sound familiar?
  • Fernando Suarez

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