Monday Morning Provocation.

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Tomorrow's a big primary day, and voters in Pennsylvania will choose between Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter and his rival for the Democratic Senate nomination, Rep. Joe Sestak:

The Pennsylvania race illustrates the asymmetry of what's happening in the two parties: By driving Specter out, Toomey has already pushed the Republicans to the right. But Specter and Sestak occupy essentially the same philosophical space in the Democratic Party.

That's E.J. Dionne in this morning's Post, and I think he's right, in part because of the longtime local focus of the Democratic political establishment, which allows flexibility in order to maintain the big-tent coalition. While this race has been bitterly contested, assuming the Democratic nominee defeats conservative Republican Pat Toomey -- no guarantee -- I'd wager there won't be much difference in the Pennsylvania senator's voting record, whether the seat is occupied by Sestak or Specter. The real issues in this race are stylistic and tribal -- questions of loyalty, emphasis, and generation -- rather than serious differences of substance.

-- Tim Fernholz

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