As we noted Monday, Hillary Clinton's hopes of surviving the Barack Obama surge depend largely on her support in the Democratic Party establishment and her ability to ride out the wave until the big states vote at the end of this month and the beginning of the next.
But as the Wall Street Journal reports today, both of those bases for hope seem to be a little less sturdy than before. Without naming names, the Journal says that "several Senate colleagues" who have so far refrained from endorsing a candidate have now begun talks with Obama's advisors. (Sen. Dick Durbin, already in the Obama camp, says some of his as-yet-unannounced colleagues are "poised and ready" to join him there.) And, the Journal says, Clinton now has "financial worries" as contributions "slacken." Time is blunter, saying the Clinton campaign suffers from a "cash crunch," having blown through more than half of the $50.5 million she had at the end of September with little to show for it yet. Although the Clinton campaign acknowledges that fundraising is always a high priority, spokesman Howard Wolfson tells Time that Clinton still has "considerable resources" at her disposal.
But will it be enough to reverse Obama's momentum? In the Journal's eyes, Clinton's new best hope may be the "relative lull" between today's New Hampshire primary and Super Tuesday on Feb. 5. "In that span," the Journal says, "reporters will have more time for further examination of the Obama record in the U.S. Senate, and his eight years in the Illinois state senate." As the Journal notes, reporters will be helped in that process by opposition research from the Clinton campaign and from attacks by the Republican Party as well.
One significant catch: The "lull" isn't much of one. Michigan, where Clinton is pretty much alone on the ballot, votes next week. Then, on Jan. 19, Democrats vote in Nevada, where Clinton still holds a lead, and in South Carolina, where Obama seems to be overtaking her. Then comes Florida on Jan. 29, Maine on Feb. 1 and 21 more states on Feb. 5. That's a leisurely schedule compared with the five-day crush between Iowa and New Hampshire, but it's not exactly a big blank slate by any other measure -- especially when it's likely to be filled with more stories about Clinton's collapse and the inevitable infighting to follow.
A new Gallup poll out Monday confirms that even before what's looking to be a big loss in New Hampshire, Clinton's star is fading fast among Democrats nationwide. In December, Clinton led Obama 45 percent to 27 percent; now they're tied at 33 percent, with John Edwards climbing up from 15 percent to 20 percent, a new high for him in Gallup's national polling. What may be most telling about the poll is that the gap between Clinton and Obama has closed not so much because of his rise in popularity -- he has picked up six percentage points -- but because of her more dramatic 12-point fall. Democrats who planned to vote for Clinton because she was the most "inevitable" or "electable" -- or because Obama was the opposite of either -- may have found in Iowa's results a permission slip to follow their hearts instead.
And all the way out in California, the Los Angeles Times reports that Clinton supporters and donors are beginning to feel the "tremors" from Iowa and New Hampshire. Obama goes fundraising in the Golden State next week. The Times sees that as a "victory lap" in Clinton territory and a chance for folks who've gone all in for Clinton to cover their bases by dropping some cash into Obama's coffers, too.