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What great news for Barack Obama! His supporters are fired up! Enthusiastic supporters, as we all know, are a sure-fire predictor of victory. Just ask presumptive GOP nominee, Ron Paul.

On another note, isn’t it time people stopped professing shock when Jesse Jackson says something some people consider offensive? Or have we forgotten Hymietown? It has been 24 years, after all.

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The conventional wisdom suggests John McCain is the winner of the continuing fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But is all this downtime really such a good thing? Sure McCain’ll be able to raise tons of money, but if money voted, Mitt Romney would be the GOP nominee and Obama would have swept Clinton offstage a long time ago.

We hear a lot about Obama’s seeming inability to connect with the white working class. I wonder if McCain will have the same problem. I don’t think his primary victories really healed the rift over immigration and other issues between him and more conservative Republicans. Those disagreements have been lost in the media’s focus on the Obama-Clinton fight, but they’re likely to return, especially if a conservative third party mounts a challenge.

The numbers from yesterday’s primary bear out the potential for an independent candidate to make inroads among disaffected Republicans (and perhaps among Democrats disaffected by whomever they ultimately choose).

I suspected Ron Paul, though fighting a hopeless cause, would do pretty well in PA.  Alas, my prediction that he could win fell flat. But he did pull down nearly 16 percent of the vote statewide. Paul did even better in York and Adams counties, winning nearly 19 percent and 18 percent of the vote, respectively. With Mike Huckabee also in the mix, McCain didn’t reach 70 percent in either county. Huckabee — who isn’t even pretending to run — came in third, with 11.6 percent in York and 12.9 percent in Adams

McCain got about 73 percent in Franklin County, but Huckabee got nearly 16 percent. Paul came in third with 11.2 percent.

In short, more than one in four Republican voters in PA cast a ballot for someone other than McCain. Maybe they’ll close ranks in November and they were all just exercising their right to disagree. But if general-election unity is so in doubt for Democrats, why doesn’t the same question hang over Republicans? The answer may be different, but it’s still worth asking.

It baffles me that John McCain can’t scrounge up at least one supporter to post a yard sign along Route 30 between York and Gettysburg, Pa. It’s not like people aren’t enthusiastic about the April 22 primary. I see tons of signs for local races and a bunch for Ron Paul. And it’s not like people aren’t overwhelmingly Republican. Every single sign for the local races is from a GOP candidate. In fact, the only Democrat with a sign on that stretch of highway is Barack Obama. He has one.

I do see a few McCain signs elsewhere in Central PA, but there are none along that 20+ miles, suggesting he may have the same problems as Obama in appealing to white, rural, working class voters. It’s telling that both Obama and McCain seem to be media favorites. They both appeal to college-educated types who believe — a bit too smugly, perhaps — in their own independence. Conservative folks may respect McCain for his military service — who doesn’t? — but his political views may be too hard for some to swallow.

I used to think conservative Republicans who disagreed with McCain would vote for him anyway. But I’m less sure of that as time goes on. I just don’t see the sort of enthusiasm that will bring out the reluctant on election day. That makes McCain vulnerable to a third-party challenge from the right, even if it’s not Ron Paul.

I’ve been seeing a ton of Ron Paul signs in central Pennsylvania over the last few days — and only one McCain sign. It makes me wonder whether Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” could generate some fantastic blowback. And the beneficiary could be Ron Paul. Let’s imagine how this absurd scenario plays out:

As I understand it, PA Republicans are crossing over to vote in the April 22 primary for the Democrat they believe would be less of a threat to McCain. Limbaugh appears to think that’s Hillary (at least he did the last time I checked).

But I’ve seen news articles and letters to the editor suggesting some of the ground forces engaged in Operation Chaos have been venturing their own independent analysis. They’ve pegged Obama as the weaker foe in a general election. Or, they’re so consumed with Hillary-phobia that they’re voting against her in the primary.

So, Operation Chaos might cancel itself out on the Democratic side (any Dems whining about dirty tricks and the unfairness of it all should just relax). On the GOP side, however, Ron Paul could do pretty well if all the McCain supporters vote in the Dem primary instead.

I’m not saying Paul will definitely carry the Keystone State. But if he does, you can say you read it here first.

In the end, what Rush’s Operation Chaos neglects is the fact that Republican voters might have local races that demand their attention and their vote. Indeed, a crowd of Republicans are running against each other in PA legislative races in Adams and York counties. Two long-time state legislators are retiring, creating a rare opening for someone else to move in. It’s too bad Rush doesn’t feel these races are very important.

Barack Obama finally has some company along Route 30 between York and Gettysburg. It’s Ron Paul. The longshot Republican has a single sign up near the York airport. That’s somewhat odd, as Paul signs usually pop up in clumps of three or four. There must be about half a dozen Paul signs lining ramps for the I-83 split near Harrisburg.

Don’t laugh. Paul is still on the PA ballot. He may even do better here than his customary 4% of the GOP vote.

So, Paul edges out John McCain 1-0, while Obama maintains his 1-0 lead over Hillary Clinton in the official “Count of Presidential Yard Signs Along Route 30 between Gettysburg and York.”

As has been the case throughout this unprecedented primary season for PA, local races are getting all the attention. I’ve even spotted a new entrant in the state Senate race, restaurant owner Robert “Bob” Curley, also a Republican.

Curley appears to be lagging his rivals in fundraising, but he’s catching up in signage. Over the weekend about a dozen signs appeared with his name along the Lincoln Highway.

Republicans pushing for Ron Paul to drop out should be careful what they wish for. Sure, his byline appeared over racist comments and other literary trash. But at least he keeps the GOP race interesting, and he keeps beating out Fred and Rudy to boot.

The Democrats proved last night during their Nevada debate that a race dominated by front-runners can be a snoozer. I’m not sure I can sit through one more speech by Edwards relating an individual anecdote.