It now seems possible, and some would say probable, that both front-runners for their party nominations will be wiped out in the early caucuses and primaries. It may well be that neither Hillary Clinton nor Rudy Giuliani win anything before the Florida primary on Jan. 29.
Hillary is now behind in Iowa and her lead in New Hampshire has dwindled from an average of 19 percent in five polls in October to a 13 percent average in five polls in the first half of November to only 9 percent in four polls at the end of the month. In the last two polls, she holds only a 7-point lead (source: www.realclearpolitics.com). If Hillary loses Iowa, it is easy to see her sinking in New Hampshire five days later.
Giuliani may fare no better. Clearly he is on his way to a humiliating defeat in Iowa where he inexplicably chose not to spend time or resources. He looks to finish third but a late surge by John McCain could knock him into fourth. Mike Huckabee will probably win Iowa, followed by a faltering Mitt Romney. Rudy trails Romney in New Hampshire and a defeat in Iowa will do nothing to bolster his chances there. If Romney wins in New Hampshire, his momentum combined with his father’s tenure as governor will likely power him to a win in Michigan. And there is no way that the most conservative primary in the most conservative state (the South Carolina Republican contest) will prove beneficial for the most liberal Republican candidate. Rudy could lose Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina.
Does that mean that Hillary and Rudy will be dead?
No. They will probably still win their parties’ nominations.
The only question people have been asking in the Democratic primary is, “Can we trust Hillary to tell us the truth?”
Obviously one can’t.
There is only one way for Hillary to shift the focus onto Obama or John Edwards: lose. By losing in Iowa and New Hampshire, she makes the key question not her veracity but Obama’s or Edwards’s ability to win. Democrats are going to be reluctant to nominate someone they know so little about as Obama and will wonder if the nation is ready for an African-American candidate (it is) or for a man who has been senator for 104 weeks before running for president (it’s not). They will also wonder about nominating Edwards, who l ost twice in 2004. When the question becomes viability, not credibility, Hillary is in a league of her own with her ability to bring new female voters to the polls.