Anticlimax in West Virginia tonight

Will tonight’s primary in West Virginia produce drama, suspense, and command the national attention? Heck, even CNN can’t work up any sense of spectacle for the contest. Hillary Clinton will likely swamp out Barack Obama by wider margins than anything yet seen in the race — and even if she does, it won’t change a thing:

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s expected victory in West Virginia Tuesday is unlikely to derail Sen. Barack Obama’s path to the Democratic nomination, but it could renew questions about his ability to draw the support of white, blue-collar voters.

As polling places across West Virginia opened at 6:30 a.m., Clinton had a 40-point lead, according to an average of the most recent public opinion polls, and she is expected to be in Charleston, West Virginia, Tuesday night to celebrate what should be her large margin of victory.

With a relatively large percentage of older voters and blue-collar workers, a dearth of upscale voters and a tiny African-American population, West Virginia appears to be a perfect demographic fit for Clinton.

But even a landslide victory in tiny West Virginia, would bring only 28 delegates to Clinton. That may be too little, too late to keep Clinton in the hunt for the nomination.

No one’s even bothering to manage expectations for this poll tonight. Forty points? What about the humiliation if she only wins by 25 or so? The horror!

I rather doubt the margin will exceed 25 points, but either way, it doesn’t change a couple of immutable truths. First, Obama will win the nomination, and second, McCain will win West Virginia in the fall. Much has been made about no successful candidate since Woodrow Wilson losing this state in a general election, but the battleground states will be elsewhere. If Democrats can turn Ohio, they won’t need West Virginia, and if Republicans can keep Ohio and pick up Pennsylvania, West Virginia won’t help Obama anyway.

Just for fun, I predict Hillary will win tonight, 64-36.