1. Can Donald Trump survive a loss in Iowa?
You wouldn’t know it from listening to Trump at his rallies, where he still spends much of his time talking about his leads in national polls, which don’t matter much at this point, and unscientific Internet polls about his last debate performance, but Trump has lost his lead in Iowa, where Ted Cruz is ahead of him by three points in the Huffington Post’s average of polls. (Trump has also flatlined in New Hampshire.)
Trump has said repeatedly that he will win Iowa, and a loss there may render the entire Trump phenomenon as dead as the Howard Dean campaign was, in 2004, when the “inevitable” nominee was trounced in the state. In the new year, watch for Trump to start lowering expectations and declaring that he might not win Iowa, after all.
2. Can Bernie Sanders win a state?
The Democratic race has been overshadowed by the Trump-centric Republican campaign, especially since Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony, which was hailed as a political success in the media. Meanwhile, Sanders has failed to break through with groups outside of his base of white liberals. Still, if Sanders wins Iowa and/or New Hampshire, Clinton’s inevitability will be damaged, and even if she still wins the nomination—as good a bet as anything in politics right now—she will be a weakened candidate for the general election.