This is panic time for the Hillary Clinton campaign. The latest polling shows that Bernie Sanders has to be considered the favorite to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Never before in modern history has any candidate from either party won their nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire, but the Hillary campaign has been busy selling the narrative that they can be the first, based on two things 1) their national lead, which is still relatively healthy and 2) their humongous lead in South Carolina.
See, the Hillary campaign knows that if Bernie wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, this will provide a huge and immediate boost to his national poll numbers as well. Wins in those two early states always do, which is why winning one or the other is so important. But their narrative has been that when the primaries shift to the Southern states, the race is going to change, because Bernie is expected to struggle in the South. As recently as December 17th, Hillary had a lead of 36 points in South Carolina.
Whoops, not anymore:
COLUMBIA — A new poll of likely self-identified Democratic South Carolina voters puts presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton with a 19 percentage point lead over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The poll was conducted by the South Carolina New Democrats Jan. 12 to 15.
In a Dec. 17 poll by CBS/YouGov, Clinton had a 36 point lead over Sanders in the state, according to the most recent polling data compiled by RealClearPolitics.com.
Make no mistake, if this lead gets down into the 10-point range before Iowa, then it will disappear after Bernie wins both Iowa and New Hampshire. And if Bernie wins Iowa, New Hampshire, AND South Carolina, then this race is over. Book it, there's no way Hillary wins the national election if she doesn't win even one of the first three states.