Everyone has known for a good while that Hillary Clinton would lose to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. But it was far from clear that she would lose (as apparently she will) by 20 points.
Where does this leave Clinton and Sanders? It leaves Clinton behind her Southern firewall. Her theory, widely shared, is that whatever happens in Iowa and New Hampshire, she will begin to win decisively once states with large numbers of African-Americans begin to vote.
Nothing that has happened so far casts serious doubt on this theory. There simply aren’t many African-Americans in Iowa and New Hampshire. One national poll has Sanders within four points of Clinton, but it is an outlier.
Moreover, Clinton tied Sanders in Iowa despite the small number of Black caucus-goers there. Similarly, in New Hampshire an exit poll apparently showed Clinton to be competitive with Sanders among the registered Democrats who participated in the primary (though I wonder whether she really was).
Still, Clinton’s theory remains just that — a theory. Conceivably, Sanders will find a way to cut into her support among Blacks.
It’s put up or shut up time for Clinton and her theory. If she stumbles in South Carolina, all bets are off.
In my view, though, Clinton’s nomination prospects continue to depend mainly on what happens at FBI headquarters and at Main Justice.