Hillary–gone in a week? Yes, if you believe Michael Smerconish.
The Philly-based radio talk show host was the only Pennsylvanian on the panel on this evening's Race for the White House on MSNBC. He saved his bombshell for last. Nothing in the kibitzing preceding the show-closing Predictions segment foreshadowed Smerconish's surprising suggestion. But when it came time to break out the crystal ball, Smerconish unloaded.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Mine's a two-parter. Part one: Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama 51, Hillary Clinton 49%. Part two: Thursday, 4 PM Eastern: Hillary Clinton suspends her campaign.
DAVID GREGORY: Wow! Based on what? Not a big enough victory there?
Gregory apparently hadn't heard his guest. Smerconish repeated his prediction, but doesn't want to be around if proved wrong.
SMERCONISH: She loses! She loses! And by the way, David, I'm unavailable next week in case you want to have me back. I won't be around to clean this up.
Co-panelist Rachel Maddow predicted that Hillary might reach deep into her bag of tricks to stave off the defeat Smerconish foresaw.
RACHEL MADDOW: My prediction is purely political, which is that heading into Pennsylvania on Tuesday, if Hillary Clinton has an ace in the hole, that would be the time for her to play it. We're going to see it between now and Sunday morning, if there is anything else negative to be unveiled against Barack Obama.
Smerconish's soothsaying is in line with the stunning Newsweek poll issued today showing Obama with a 19% lead nationally over Hillary among Dems. But it flies in the face of Pennsylvania-specific polls such as this one, that still show Hillary with a Keystone State lead. On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews predicted that Hillary would win PA by 10 points.
So, what do people think? Will this long, strange trip come to an end next week?