In New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders enjoys nearly a 20-point polling lead over Clinton, who is using the gap to cast herself as the underdog. The Clinton campaign is characterizing a victory for Sanders “as a nearly worthless inevitability for a nearly home-state senator,” according to Politico. One unnamed Clintonista said, “The home court advantage for Bernie makes the win an asterisk for him.”
This is, of course, how you manage expectations in the media and set the narrative. And it’s true that the primary calendar after New Hampshire will play to Clinton’s advantage, meaning a victory for Sanders in the Granite State might not mean much in the grand scheme of things.
But it also shows why it was crucial for Clinton to win in Iowa, even it was by a narrow margin, since it gives her a cushion to absorb a loss. That was not the case in 2008, when Barack Obama pulled off an upset in Iowa and looked for all the world like he would win New Hampshire, too. Clinton knew she was in serious trouble then—and it showed in her most memorable moment of the campaign.