The New Hampshire primary is four months away, and as any political wag will tell you, it's a contest that tends to "break late." Back in 2008, in fact, the primary broke late very memorably, with Hillary Clinton prevailing just a day and a half after being all-but-completely written off in the state. Flash forward to today, and New Hampshire has, in the early days of the campaign, turned into the testing ground for Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential viability.
So what should Clinton do? Well, according to "one small contingent of family allies," who are also idiots, she should panic and do something rash for no real good reason.
The group — veterans of the family’s old campaigns and people close to Clinton’s fundraising — see little reason to support a strategy that continues to pour resources into the state where Bernie Sanders’ already surprising lead shows no signs of shrinking.
Despite confidence emanating from the campaign’s paid leadership team that Clinton is well positioned with more than four months to go before the primary, this circle of informal advisers is whispering about more aggressively looking beyond New Hampshire after a summer that saw her polling advantage evaporate. These confidantes are not only granting the possibility that Sanders could win here: they see it as a near-certainty, and in some cases wonder about the usefulness of flooding the state with precious resources.
There are so many things to unpack here. "Veterans of the family's old campaigns" is basically code for "the people who in 2008 were mainly responsible for campaigning with the intelligence and elegance of downer cows." These people apparently believe that the Clinton team cannot campaign "aggressively ... beyond New Hampshire" without quitting the state, or that she's dealing with such a stringent limitation in campaign cash that continuing to compete in the state she won eight years ago represents a tremendous opportunity cost. Perhaps they've not heard that New Hampshire is not a winner-take-all state, but rather, awards delegates proportionally. (That was basically the sort of error that made "veterans of the family's old campaigns" such galactically famous cock-ups.)
But really, all that needs to be said is that these oh-so-savvy "veterans of the family's old campaigns" are of the mind that the best thing to do to respond to Bernie Sanders' hardy challenge in New Hampshire is to freak out, pull out of an early primary state and get every news organization in America a-twitter with headlines like "Clinton Panics in New Hampshire" and "Sanders Has Clinton On The Run" and "Clinton Campaign Now Just A Disheveled Bundle Of Sweaty Hair And Confusion."
Having the political media light up with stories about your fear and weakness four months ahead of the first nominating contests is definitely a good idea. Total veteran move. Obviously, these people know best, but if you want a differing point of view, Debenedetti helpfully brings in Clinton supporter and former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairwoman Kathy Sullivan: "That's craziness."
But that's American politics, where even if a political campaign doesn't want to follow your bad advice because of the terrible way it will play in the press, you can still get the press to publish your terrible advice and basically achieve the same outcome.