9 Ways Hillary Clinton Could Still Lose The Nomination

It's only October, you know.

This week, Hillary Clinton sat through the most recent round of activity from the House Select Committee On #Benghazi, and after watching her persevere in the face of -- well... whatever that was? -- we wouldn’t be at all surprised if a desperate Martin O’Malley demanded equal time in front of Trey Gowdy’s Rowdies for the sake of his own poll numbers.

Let’s face it: Clinton’s 11-hour endurance test really makes her mettle shine a wee bit brighter, when you compare it to the guy who leads the GOP field, butterscotch mountain mining accident Donald Trump, who recently made news whining and carping about having to be one-tenth of a debate for three hours. 

And Clinton's confident demeanor obviously put the fear into Lincoln Chafee. Not 24 hours after the Benghazi committee quit for the day, leaving even Gowdy feeling pretty “¯\_(ツ)_/¯” about the point of it all, Chafee was scrambling away from the race. Perhaps he realized that America wanted the 3 a.m. call to be answered by someone whose response was more substantial than, “Look, guys, I am really going through some stuff right now!

Still, it’s funny: The post-debate narrative devolved into a civil war about whether Clinton had won. Now, after her all-day ordeal, you see a lot of presumptive coronations floating in the social media transom. It’s just October, everyone. Winning the nomination is still a challenge. And there are still ways Clinton could lose this thing. Though maybe not many? On this week’s First To Last, we are acknowledging, and ranking, the pitfalls that remain.

Forget Trey Gowdy and his political parlor act. If there’s a lingering concern for Clinton, it’s the current scrutiny that the FBI is giving her email server. It’s easier today than it was yesterday to frame the Benghazi committee’s interest in her emails as partisan politics. That won’t be as simple if FBI director James Comey finds anything amiss.
Joe Biden’s departure from a race he never started will be good for Clinton's national poll numbers. But lots of Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are feeling the Bern. It’s getting harder to not take Sanders’ chances seriously.
We know Bill Clinton can close the deal. Surely he’s already been slotted for prime time at the Democratic Convention. Now we have to get through the part of the campaign season where he says self-sabotaging things.
Don’t underestimate the power of this cash-for-goodwill karma laundry in keeping corporate plutocrats in Clinton's fold. But don’t forget that this creakily managed charity’s missteps will also be under an electron microscope.
In 2008, Clinton was never better than when she was debating -- after all, it was her safe space from her often fractious, sometimes incompetent campaign team. Those who served as her chief dysfunctionaries back then have been replaced by new blood this time around, but those who forget history, yadda yadda.
The most charitable thing you can say about the Benghazi committee is that it might have aided the cause of pinning Libya on Clinton. Of course, it was Clinton who called the Libyan intervention “smart power at its best.” But Libya is, at the moment, a mess. Sanders or O’Malley have an opening to exploit, if they want it.
The Phantom Menace: It was never really clear what sort of contrast he offered to voters who were “meh” on Clinton, but the fact that Biden's still taking shots at her suggests he’s not quite done being an antagonist.
The Force Awakens: No, she’s not running for president. But Warren still looms large as an animating power for the Democratic base. Clinton is not Warren by a long shot -- but she’s got to convince a lot of primary voters that she’s close enough.
We guess you can’t rule out the possibility of an out-of-left-field O’Malley surge -- but it had better happen soon!
Photos: Getty, Associated Press