As Eric Boehlert of Media Matters noted recently, as of January 22, Hillary Clinton has led in the last ten polls taken in Iowa. Although some media has focused on polls showing Sanders leading, Clinton leads the average of Iowa polls by more than 7 percentage points.
The polls get most of the attention, but they have not historically been the most important part of the early stages of a presidential campaign. The better guide to who’s really winning is known as the invisible primary, in which candidates compete for support from their fellow politicians, from party leaders and from donors.
The Upshot goes on to report that Clinton leads in predictions markets with an 82% chance of winning the nomintation, 76.5% of congressional endorsements (to Sanders 1.2%), and money raised ($97.7 million — more than double Sanders' total).
In addition, the Upshot finds Clinton leading Sanders in Iowa 51.8% to 39.8%. Of the measures the Upshot considered, only in Sanders' neighboring state of New Hampshire does he hold a lead over Clinton — about equal to that she holds over Sanders in Iowa.
Writing in The Daily Beast, Eleanor Clift compares the Sanders campaign to the Bradley campaign of 2000. Democratic operative Matt Bennett suggests that the Trump campaign in 2016 could play a similar role to that of the McCain campaign in 2000, when "undeclared" New Hampshire voters who might have voted for Bradley ultimately went for McCain.
Clift cites nonpartisan political analyst Charlie Cook, in suggesting "even if you give Sanders every delegate in Iowa, plus the delegates from every caucus state and every state in New England, the most liberal part of the country, he’s still got only 36 percent of the delegates...."
Younger women have a hard time seeing Clinton’s possible ascent to the Oval Office as something new. There hasn’t been a time in their life when she wasn’t at the center of American politics. If she wins the nomination, the ups and downs of Iowa and New Hampshire will fade into memories. The battles Clinton has prepared for all her life will come into focus and change the contours of the presidential race in ways that no candidate other than Clinton could be prepared for.