NBC's Mark Murray said Monday that it would be “panic time” for the Democratic establishment if party frontrunner Hillary Clinton loses the upcoming Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary to challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), an outcome he said was a possibility.
Murray gave his analysis while appearing on MSNBC Live with guest host Craig Melvin to discuss the latest on the Democratic primary and Sanders' recent surge in the polls to create a virtual tie with Clinton in the first two voting states.
Melvin first brought up the prospect of Sanders taking both Iowa and New Hampshire, saying “there's a high probability” Sanders will win the latter.
He then asked, “If he wins Iowa as well, he starts out 2-0 before South Carolina, before they get to some of these other races. What would that do to the Democratic race if you've got Bernie Sanders out of the gate with a 2-0 start?”
“It becomes panic time on the Democratic establishment,” Murray said in response. “Almost the entire Democratic Party has been backing Hillary Clinton among elected officials, and so she goes 0-2, I do think you're going to see a lot of fingernails being chewed on.”
He added, however, that Clinton does have a silver-lining.
Murray cited an MSNBC poll with Clinton holding a three-point lead in Iowa and said if she wins by a bigger margin, “that's seen as a big win for her.” Furthermore, he thinks that Clinton is still the favorite, but her decreasing advantage could serve to temper expectations for her, making a victory have a greater impact.
While Clinton is the favorite to secure the Democratic nomination, with some commentators even saying that the Democratic National Committee is rigging the primary process for her, Sanders has narrowed her lead over him in the polls.
The former secretary of state maintains a lead in national polls, but Sanders has substantially narrowed that margin in recent weeks and caught up to Clinton in the early voting states. One new poll shows Sanders beating Clinton in New Hampshire and just three points behind her in Iowa.
The Sanders campaign has simultaneously gone on the offensive in recent days, arguing that Clinton takes policy positions that are politically convenient rather than what she actually believes.