Clinton vs. Sanders: The good news for Hillary is that she did not lose

We knew it would be close, but not this close. So close that it’s too close to call.  It’s a “virtual tie.”

Since late Monday night there has been less than half a percentage point separating Hillary Clinton from Bernie Sanders in Iowa – the man who was upwards of 30 points behind her not too long ago.

I was never part of the media chorus that referred to Clinton as the anointed one. After what happened in 2008, the Clinton campaign wouldn’t take anything for granted – even a 74-year old Democratic socialist.

Monday night’s results show just how much momentum Sanders has built. He will certainly add to his incredible fundraising effort in January where he pulled in $20 million in small donations with an average donation of $27.

And as we move to New Hampshire – where Clinton will almost certainly lose as she continues to trail Sanders by 20-points in some polls – Sanders has a strong case for the passion of the party being with his campaign, just as he argued in his speech Monday evening.

But he’s about to run up against one of the strongest parts of the Clinton firewall: South Carolina.

Clinton is overwhelmingly popular with African-Americans, just as her husband was. Even though Sanders has made inroads with figures of the black community as of late – he recently received the endorsement of Eric Garner’s daughter, for instance – I don’t think that he was correct when he said that he can chip away at her lead like he did in Iowa in the South and the West.

South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states are very different demographically and politically. Furthermore, some of Clinton’s best numbers come from her support with minorities.

Just days ago, 28  black ministers endorsed her and she leads Sanders 63 percent to 20 percent and is up 54 percent to 33 percent with Latino voters.

We know that she won’t be able to rebuild the Obama coalition, but she should handily win these groups who have a long history of supporting her, not something that can be easily undone.

But that doesn’t mean that Monday night was by any means a great night for Hillary. Even if she is named the eventual winner, her victory in Iowa should be classified as something she survived rather than anything else.

It follows that she’s going to have to treat each and every primary as she did with Iowa, even where she has a big lead.

Her path to the nomination remains clear, but Sanders is giving her more of a race than anyone could’ve predicted (except Sanders, of course).