This word-of-mouth report emanating from the Hawkeye State is basically the same message as that being relayed by "the newspaper of record" in the last couple of days. Hillary is in free fall in Iowa. She has squandered a 20-point lead and is now engaging in fear-mongering attacks on Sanders, saying he is captive to the gun lobby and that he will raise taxes on working-class Iowans.
All one need do is read "Hillary Clinton Races to Close Enthusiasm Gap With Bernie Sanders in Iowa," by Patrick Healy and Yamiche Alcindor, to get the sense of the dire situation Team Clinton is in:
A poll published on Tuesday, by Quinnipiac University, found that Mr. Sanders had jumped to a lead in Iowa, with 49 percent to Mrs. Clinton’s 44 percent, after trailing her by 11 points in mid-December. The Quinnipiac poll also found that liberal Iowans were the most enthusiastic about the election, and that Mr.Sanders was the favorite among these voters. A New York Times/CBS News poll released on Tuesday showed Mrs. Clinton’s once formidable lead shrinking from 20 points a month ago to seven points.
The tightened race is revealing a sharp generational divide within the Democratic Party, with primary voters under age 45 favoring Mr. Sanders by a roughly 2-to-1 ratio.
Mr. Sanders’s supporters point to his grass-roots strengths: He has more than 14,000 volunteers in Iowa, and he has spoken to more than 40,000 people at events in the state so far, huge numbers that include young people, independents and new voters who might not be on pollsters’ call sheets. (Mrs. Clinton’s advisers declined to say how many volunteers she had or people she had spoken to in Iowa.)
“I think his secret weapon, maybe his silver bullet even, is the young adult population that hasn’t been involved in politics up until this point,” said Katie Mitchell, 28, a middle school teacher who lives in Des Moines.Taking into consideration there is still almost three weeks to go before the February 1 caucus, I'm declaring Hillary dead on arrival based on a reading of just those four paragraphs. Iowa is a caucus state. Caucuses require commitment. It is not as if you can walk into a voting booth make your choice and get out of there. Caucuses require you to be in crowded close quarters with strangers who are sometimes hostile for an hour or more. Caucuses are not for the moderately motivated citizen. Caucuses are for the true believers. The New York Times in its coverage of the last few days is acknowledging in so many words, without saying it explicitly, that Bernie is going to win Iowa because his supporters are much more fervent than Hillary's.
What this means is that Sanders will win Iowa and he will win in New Hampshire and Clinton will have to rely on her Super Tuesday firewall of Southern states to save her bacon. This creates the unsavory scenario for Team Clinton and the Democratic National Committee where Hillary's candidacy is dependent on primary victories in red states she has no hope of carrying in the general. This has been my mantra when people ask me about the Democratic presidential race: Think twice about Clinton's viability in the general election.
Another stake in the heart of Hillary 2016 is the debunking of the Clinton-peddled talking point that she can win by returning the Obama coalition to the polls. She can't return the Obama coalition to the polls because we now know that one vital bloc of that coalition -- youth -- will not turn out for her. So until the Clinton campaign can come up with another model to explain how she wins 270 electoral votes we have to conclude that she is D.O.A.
At this point because of Hillary's strength in red state primaries I'm not willing to say Sanders can knock her out and win the nomination. What I'm saying is Hillary as the Democratic nominee has big problems. Maybe she could beat a Ted Cruz. Maybe. But Donald Trump? No way.