I think reports of the death of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy are a tad premature. The polls are showing a mixed bag of results. A couple have Obama with decent leads in NH, a couple have them tied. Even if she only takes second, it’s entirely conceivable the margin will be tight.
And then she’s got Nevada — a state where she does extremely well with the hotel unions. I think she’s got the non-competitive Michigan situation in the bag, if I recall correctly. If I were her at that point I’d concede South Carolina, and begin immediately focusing on the Super Tuesday states. The ultra-concentrated fish bowl effect of Iowa and New Hampshire — where a single charismatic candidate can come in and sweep all before him with his personal magnetism — won’t be the same. The geographic spread is simply too wide. Super Tuesday is essentially a national primary, and Clinton still leads national surveys. A number of the contests moreover don’t allow Independents and Republicans to vote.
In the end, it’s still about delegate counts. If she can keep her head, make smart criticisms of her opponent, and convince Democrats that a rush to the nomination isn’t in their best interests (a perfectly reasonable position, I’d say), she could still yet wake up on February 6th leading or tied in the delegate count.
Clinton’s biggest problem is that she’s simply disliked by millions of people. And yet, I’d say in taking on the mantle of the underdog there’s an opportunity for her, because by being forced to be scrappy — rather than the regal überbitch the press makes her out to be — she has a chance to connect with voters in a more sympathetic fashion.
All this is predicated on having a decent financial situation. I have no idea what her burn rate is. If her money’s on the verge of running out, it probably really is all over. She can’t write her campaign a check like Mitt Romney. My guess is her national network and her husband’s connections can still be leveraged into significant campaign contributions, but that’s only a guess.
Oh, and Penn has gotta go.
UPDATE (1/23/08): The above post was pretty fucking prescient if I do say so myself.