What if Hillary Loses Iowa?
No one expects Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton to lose the Iowa caucus to Bernie Sanders, but that might just happen. Polls for caucuses do not really measure too much, especially in the long gatherings during the cold winter nights of the Iowa caucus, but even the polls for Iowa show how vulnerable Clinton is in a nomination contest without a single serious Democrat challenger (Sanders, of course, is a Socialist).
The last six polls for the Iowa caucus give Clinton an average percentage of exactly 50% of the respondents. Think what that means. Is there any Democrat who will support Clinton who is now "undecided"? She has been a political celebrity and a Washington insider for a quarter of a century. Everyone knows who she is, and surely everyone has made up his mind.
If only half of Iowa Democrats support her, how many of those will show up for the Iowa caucus? The enthusiasm gap so far has strongly favored Sanders, who draws crowds, while Clinton speaks to broom closets of dozing audiences. Sanders also seems to have become feistier lately, identifying Clinton more closely with what no one wants these days: the status quo.
If the weather is bad, if Bernie energizes some Iowa crowds, and if Clinton makes another one of her ham-handed unforced errors, then Sanders could edge out Clinton in the Iowa caucus. She could lose the first contest in the fight for the Democrat nomination to a challenger who is not even a Democrat. How can that possibly be interpreted except as a rejection of Bill Clinton's frumpy wife as suitable presidential timber?
The next contest, the first true "primary," is New Hampshire. How well might Sanders do in the first Democrat primary? He is already running an average of six percentage points ahead of Clinton. If he has momentum coming out of Iowa and into New Hampshire, Sanders will almost certainly win the New Hampshire primary.
How could Clinton's campaign explain two straight losses away? How could two straight wins fail to bring money, momentum, and volunteers into Sanders's campaign? This is where it gets very interesting indeed. The national polling data for the Democrat nomination shows the Democrat, Clinton, running ahead of the non-Democrat, Sanders, but the margin is hardly a runaway.
The percentage of Democrats who support the Democrat for the Democrat nomination is pathetically low, all things considered, and looking at specific polling organizations, Clinton's support has been dropping in the last two months. If she goes down a bit, and Bernie goes up a bit, Clinton could actually be running behind the Socialist Senator Sanders in the race for the Democratic Party nomination.
Although the next primary, South Carolina, is supposed to be Clinton's "firewall," that is surely because Sanders has hardly campaigned in the South. It is worth noting, however, that Liberty University, a Christian and conservative Southern university, invited Sanders to speak in September. He was politely received and spoke politely to the audience, although it is hard to imagine greater differences in political position. Both, though, are honorably held positions, and the fact that Sanders says what he really believes and Clinton says whatever will help her right now may produce surprises there.
What could make this even more interesting is if Republicans in South Carolina cross over in this open primary state to support Sanders. Indeed, if Donald Trump has won the Republican nomination by then, Republicans will have a strong incentive to keep the Sanders candidacy alive all the way to the Democrat Convention with the intention – openly made to Bernie Sanders – to force the Democrat convention to adopt a genuinely socialist platform.
Both could get what they want. Socialists like Sanders believe that people who have become fabulously rich as imagined "champions" of the poor are not the real article (Bernie is right), and Republicans believe that a pathological liar like Clinton should never be allowed (again) in the White House (they are right.)
No matter who the Republican Party nominee is we ought not be shocked if Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton finds herself in March losing the Democrat nomination to someone who is not a Democrat.