For Hillary Clinton, this was a drop-mic-walk-away week. Despite all the haters, the alleged “vast right wing conspiracy,” and a talent for making statements she later has to clarify, she has made history. And now the numbers say this is Clinton’s race to lose. If she holds onto all the states Barack Obama won in 2012, she wins big. If she can add one or two – like Arizona or Georgia – it’s a landslide. And if Donald Trump keeps saying things so nutty even his Republican allies run to hide, the electorate may give her the White House plus a year of free cable with HBO. “Come in here, Bill, Khaleesi is riding toward Winterfell!”
So what could go wrong? Plenty.
1) Trump gets his groove back. In the Republican primary, the billionaire from New York chewed up challengers like a feral cat. He has a knack for picking damning nicknames, staging surprise attacks, grabbing populist themes, and turning his lack of experience into a platinum-plated qualification for office – all of which could be lethal to someone who is lousy at all of that.
2) Past mistakes scorch her. Clinton’s fans dismiss her email troubles as partisan sniping, but new reports of troubles at the State Department, her continued refusal to release the contents of those gazillion dollar speeches, and her tendency toward lawyerly answers all feed the idea that she can’t be trusted – which still holds the potential of incinerating her at the polls.
3) The economy. Or terrorism. Or something else. Clinton says she’ll continue the legacy of Obama. That’s fine as long as enough voters feel good about that. But let the recovery stall, or let gas prices jump, or let terrorists strike and look out …
As much as Democrats should feel good (and Republicans dismayed) about her chances right now, it is important to remember Clinton was the choice of the party elites in 2008 until Barack Obama – a neophyte – outmaneuvered her, ignited the voting public and burned her campaign to the ground.
In other words, it was already once her race to lose. And she found a way.
CNN’s Tom Foreman is the author of My Year of Running Dangerously