There are faint signs that Bernie Sanders just might pull it off, against all the conventional wisdom. The latest polls indicate that he may win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. In fact his lead seems to be widening. Neither state is friendly turf for Hillary so she must depend on a strong ground game if she is to catch up. I don’t think it will be enough. Interestingly, in the modern primary era the only person who went on to become President after losing both states was her husband. And Hillary is no Bill Clinton, as her campaign so far makes clear.
Moreover, Joe Biden has started signaling that he supports Bernie over Hillary. Certainly the two are more emotionally compatible. In itself this isn’t good for Hillary, but also keep in mind that Biden is tight with Obama whose attachment to Hillary is fragile.
Of course, Hillary is well positioned to win across the south because the black vote is solidly behind her and no Democrat can win either the nomination or the Presidency without massive black support. But there is a wild card. Those ongoing FBI investigations are lurking. There are new revelations in the latest batch of emails where she told people to ignore handling processes for classified data. In one case she specifically instructed the sender just to remove the classifications. Regardless, I doubt even this would lead to an indictment, notwithstanding the exemplar case involving General Petraeus.
But there is another investigation related to murky deals involving contributors to the Clinton Foundation and contract awards by the State Department. Fox News, as you might expect, is chortling over this but their take on it is hardly unbiased. However CNN is reporting something more basic and far more ominous. Career bureaucrats involved in these investigations are leaking that they will revolt if nothing comes of them. So even though the Obama administration is extremely unlikely to indict their party’s nominee without a clear corpus delicti, this could evolve into Watergate-light. Of course Nixon actually survived initially by using the power of the Presidency, however Hillary doesn’t have comparable tools at her disposal. So my take is that it conceivably could all blow up, with an unpredictable outcome. How about this scenario: no indictments but a miasma of sleaze descends over Hillary’s candidacy, and Obama begins to signal his unhappiness with this cap on his Presidency.
None of this means that Bernie would necessarily benefit, although he is certainly best positioned at present. Religious bigotry is a factor that shouldn’t be totally discounted. Perhaps we are ready for a Jewish President. More likely what might happen would be more like the experience of Al Smith than that of John Kennedy. And possibly someone new would enter the fray. Joe Biden?