State of the Race
As it stands today, I don't see how Sen. Clinton could possibly win New Hampshire or South Carolina. However, Chris Bowers has two posts focusing on Sen. Obama's momentum and whether or not Sen. Clinton still has a reasonable chance of winning the nomination - here and here. Here's a portion of the second post (emphasis mine):
In the post below this one, many commenters expressed skepticism at my assertion that Clinton would still be competitive after Obama wins New Hampshire. Certainly, if Obama received the historic average of a double Iowa and New Hampshire win, he would gain a net of 33% on Clinton nationally, thus turning a 19-point national deficit into a solid 14-point national lead. With a 14-point national lead, there would be no stopping Obama. An advantage like that would allow him to clean up in both Nevada and South Carolina, and probably take even Florida as he cruised toward a crushing victory on February 5th. However, in the only data we currently have available, it just doesn't seem like Obama has secured much national momentum from his Iowa victory. Sure, Clinton has dropped, but surprisingly most of that support has gone to Edwards.
Now, it is possible that Obama's momentum will increase, or that other polls will show more momentum than Rasmussen has done. However, the point I want to make is that there is simply no guarantee that Obama will cruise to the nomination by winning New Hampshire. Further, from now through Super Tuesday, there are some states, such as Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, New York and New Jersey, where Clinton is ahead by more than 19%. Collectively, these states mean that Clinton will only need to win California to maintain a national delegate lead. And yes, while Michigan, Florida and the super delegates are expected to simply throw their delegates to the national leader, what if, because of her advantage in the other states I just listed, super delegates, Michigan and Florida are the only things separating Clinton from a national delegate lead? Then, we have entered a true nightmare scenario, where internal party procedure could determine the nomination, rather than the Democratic electorate. Also, does anyone really think that Clinton wouldn't have a big edge during an insider fight over internal party procedure?
I'm urging caution on momentum, because right now I'm not seeing enough of a national boost for Obama to finish Clinton off. Perhaps polls to follow New Hampshire will show different results, but right now I project a net 24% boost for Obama from Iowa and New Hampshire wins, with that boost fading slightly starting on January 14th. Basically, that leaves Nevada a tie, South Carolina Obama favored, but with Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey and New York still slightly favoring Clinton. That is how California can potentially become a major showdown state. Or, national polls after New Hampshire will show Obama up by 12 points or more, in which case Obama will be well positioned to sweep every state.
The point is, we just don't know yet how much of a boost Obama will receive. If he gets the historic average of 33%, he is golden. If he gets less, we still have a campaign on our hands. Right now, indications point to the latter, but the truth is that right now we really don't know.
We'll see what happens after NH.