How badly is Bernie burned?

Going into tonight, I thought that Bernie Sanders needed to win the Iowa caucus to sustain his long shot campaign against Hillary Clinton (absent FBI/DOJ action against Hillary). After all, Iowa is tailor-made for a Sanders-style insurgent. If Sanders couldn’t win there, where (other than in his home territory) could he win?

Thus, even a five point defeat, say, would be huge blow, however heroically it could be portrayed given how far back Sanders started. Or so it seemed to me.

It looks now as if Sanders will lose. But the margin may be one percentage point or less. What should we conclude if the defeat turns out to be this narrow and, as expected, Sanders wins in New Hampshire?

In this scenario, I believe Sanders remains a viable long shot candidate, especially if his margin of victory in New Hampshire is reasonably impressive. The Democratic caucus procedure is sufficiently convoluted that a loss as narrow as Sanders’ seems like a virtual tie. Indeed, more people may have caucused for him than for Hillary.

A clear win and a virtual tie in the first two races strike me as a good enough outcome to keep Sanders viable. But, her legal problems aside, Clinton remains the heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination, and a bit more so after tonight.

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