It’s hard to imagine there’s any way Hillary Clinton could stumble.
Most all of the polling indicates she has a commanding lead among South Carolina Democrats. Even the frequency of her TV advertising has died down as she saves her war chest for elsewhere.
As a campaigner, she’s hit all the points of the state. For places she couldn’t go, husband Bill Clinton or daughter Chelsea filled-in as surrogates. If all goes to plan, Saturday should be an early night.
Still, rival Bernie Sanders’ campaign says he isn’t conceding anything, even as his effort faded in South Carolina. He’ll give an early good-bye, leaving for far away rallies Saturday in Texas and Minnesota.
Here are the best-case and worse-case scenarios the two leaders face:
Best Case: She wins everywhere.
Clinton has owned the state in the last week, making dozens of stops and speaking to audiences of all sizes, while Sanders took a pass.
Labor, women and black church groups have all been a part of her target market, reinforcing her position as heir-apparent to President Barack Obama.
Worse Case: The “undecideds” break for Sanders in big numbers.
Voters who haven’t made up their minds by election day traditionally break for the challenger, which is Sanders this year.
If such a trend emerges, it likely indicates there’s still an ethics taint following Clinton that not all Democrats are comfortable with.
Best Case: He finishes within a few percentage points, or much closer than expected.
Iowa was 49.9 percent for Clinton and 49.6 percent for Sanders. Nevada was 52.6 percent for Clinton, to 47.3 percent for Sanders. Any finish near that range would be a huge momentum-building victory for Sanders in a state where Clinton’s ties go back decades.
Worse Case: The night becomes a blowout.
If Sanders fails badly in connecting with women or the black community — who’ll represent better than 50 percent of the turnout Saturday — there’s not much realistic chance of winning significant delegates elsewhere as the race heads toward more states with large minority populations.
Sanders should be able to continue on after South Carolina but his run may become more about his cornerstone themes of equality than trying to take on Clinton.