Black Hole, Wyoming

Both Democratic candidates spent Friday in Wyoming , poking their heads into a state that has only 12 delegates total. Despite this minor flurry of attention, the Cowboy State—that’s seriously its nickname—still won’t matter when all is said and done. With apologies to Wyoming Democrats, here’s why:  

We already (think we) know who’s going to win —Barack Obama will win the Wyoming caucuses. Four states that border Wyoming have already voted—and all of them have gone overwhelmingly for Obama (by an average margin of 37 points). Maybe Clinton should have thought of enacting the mercy rule before the caucuses.

The spin is already set. If Clinton loses, the campaign will quickly spin the loss away. It’s another caucus loss in a red state that Clinton will say doesn’t matter in a general election. Obama’s people will say that it shows he’s back on track and that the losses in Ohio and Texas were aberrations. Clinton will say Ohio and Texas are a lot bigger than Wyoming, and wins in big states matter more. Around and around we go!  

The delegate margin will be small. Even if Obama blows Clinton out of the water in Wyoming, his delegate haul will be minimal. To come out with a six-delegate advantage, he’s going to have to win with a margin of 41 percent, according to Slate ’s delegate calculator . Needless to say, that’s unlikely, especially since Clinton has actually campaigned in Wyoming. The only times Obama has racked up more than a 41-point advantage are when Clinton doesn’t campaign in a state (Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, and Idaho).

Even if the press says this is a big deal, it isn’t. We’ve had more narrative changes in this primary than in an average episode of Lost . Yet, after Clinton’s wins, the press started frothing about how this is a whole new race and she once again has a shot at the nomination. She has a shot, but it’s not a whole new race. The same thing happened after Obama won Wisconsin. All of a sudden, Obama was the inevitable nominee, even though it was just one more state added to his streak. If Obama wins Wyoming, it’s still just one win. He was expected to win among the Tetons just like Clinton was expected to win Ohio and Obama was expected to win the Potomac. At this point, every new primary and caucus offers only marginal change.