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From a media standpoint, there is no way Hillary Clinton can win Iowa even if she wins the somewhat inscrutable caucuses. How is that possible you ask? Three words – Hillary. Industrial. Complex.
Now, the “HIC” I’m talking of isn’t about Hillary herself or her ambition or her political machine. The real Hillary Industrial Complex is the group of media who have their careers invested in a Hillary Clinton loss in Iowa, or at least talk of a loss, because that apparently draws an audience.
So lose she must, regardless of the actual outcome. Lose she will, in their eyes and their headlines, even if she wins. How is that possible? Well …
1. If Hillary loses by a lot, they’ll celebrate the fall of the front-runner.
2. If Hillary loses by a little, they’ll spin it like it’s a mortal wound.
3. If Hillary wins by a little, it will be seen as a loss because the leader couldn’t hold on to a Bernie Sanders surge.
4. And if Hillary wins by a lot, it will still be a loss because they’ll see it as a fluke, or that she merely met expectations, or that, somehow, she cheated Bernie Sanders out of his due.
Hillary Clinton will “lose” no matter the scenario, because if she wins in Iowa, all those prognosticating reporters won’t want to be viewed as having been wrong all along about Feeling the Bern and Gen Y’s love affair with an old socialist — narratives that have been keeping viewers and readers coming back for more. So if the Iowa facts don’t fit a certain media narrative, don’t be surprised if some outlets make damn sure that they can spin it in a way that will at least force their round peg into the political square hole.
How can I be so sure? The Iowa Caucuses are more than three weeks away, I don’t have a crystal ball, and even though Clinton is currently ahead of Sanders by about 18 points nationally … that drumbeat has already begun:
“One Reason Hillary Clinton Might Underperform in the Early States” (with the small sub-title “and one reason she might not”)
You get my drift.
The one funny thing that so many reporters either forget or ignore is this … Hillary’s husband didn’t win in Iowa in 1992. John McCain lost there in 2008. And Mitt Romney failed in the Buckeye State in 2012. And let’s not forget that the “vote” in the caucuses isn’t binding in terms of electoral votes for the Democrats (the wiley GOP changed its Iowa Caucus rules not long ago, so now the GOP results are binding in terms of electoral votes for nominating convention). So nothing is set in stone as far as the Democratic Convention goes.
So whatever the outcome on February 1 in snowy Iowa, and whatever the margin of winning or failing, it’s likely you’ll hear the words “Hillary” and “lose” from many in the media. And they’ll keep talking about that spin for the month that follows until Super Tuesday.