The Clinton Imperative: Make Wisconsin the Next New Hampshire

The last time Hillary Clinton’s campaign seemed to be on the brink of collapse she pulled out an improbable win in New Hampshire.

Now, five weeks later, the vultures are back. She’s lost eight straight contests since Super Tuesday and most pundits have penciled her in for two more next Tuesday, in Wisconsin and Hawaii. And her grip on Ohio and Texas (in particular) may be slipping, and if she can’t win those states on March 4, then the end will be at hand.

Sounds like the perfect set-up for Clinton to pull another rabbit out of the hat. And, several polls now show, she may be moving into position to do just that in Wisconsin. Both Research 2000 and Rasmussen have Obama leading the Badger State, but only slightly—by five and four points, respectively.

That’s a clear improvement for Obama from Wisconsin surveys taken before his recent charge, but could it also be his high-water mark? It seems like his post-Potomac Tuesday bounce has peaked, and now Clinton is up on the air with a negative ad and is set to spend the weekend barnstorming the state. A win is not at all out of reach for her.

On paper, Wisconsin is a winnable state for Clinton, filled with the working-class Democrats who have formed the backbone of her coalition in other states. But the math is more complicated for her in Wisconsin because it is also home to many progressive reformers who naturally gravitate toward Obama. The difference—as in New Hampshire—could be made by women: They flocked to Clinton at the last minute and saved her in New Hampshire. With her back against the wall, will they give her a super-lopsided margin in Wisconsin, the kind that could tip the state into her column?

A Clinton win in Wisconsin would dramatically alter the Democratic race, killing Obama’s perceived momentum and halting the Clinton slide in Texas and Ohio. No matter what they say publicly about being happy to keep it close, the Clinton campaign surely realizes the opportunity they have to pull off a surprise next week. The Clinton Imperative: Make Wisconsin the Next New Hampshire