The Note: Biden slashes but may not burn New Hampshire front-runners

Biden was the front-runner a week ago. Now, he’s in danger of campaign freefall.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Pity the New Hampshire primary voter who has witnessed, along with the rest of the political world, a mind-bending week littered with low moments for the Democratic Party.

Seven days ago, Iowa's caucuses were held -- and quickly botched. Also in the past week: the State of the Union address, the Senate impeachment acquittal, Friday night's Democratic presidential debate -- and the first attack ads of what had been a relatively tame primary.

A week ago, former Vice President Joe Biden was the front-runner for the nomination. Now, he's in danger of campaign freefall, ceding Tuesday's New Hampshire primary and engaging in a two-front war with Iowa's two apparent winners.

Biden is wielding different arguments against Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The through-line, though, is electability -- a hard case to make if you're not winning elections.

It's also a difficult sell to Democratic voters who desperately want a winning message, and fear a loss to President Donald Trump perhaps more than ever before. Sanders and Buttigieg are both positioned for a second strong showing on Tuesday, but the race doesn't look close to narrowing to a two- or even three- or four-person fight.

Much has been made of the "lanes" in the Democratic Party. But the paths to the nomination are as scattered as the party the candidates are hoping to lead at this moment.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

After Iowa, the conversation around the Democratic primary focused mostly on three men: Sanders and Buttigieg -- for what looked like a split victory -- and Biden -- after his stumble in the state. But voters and pundits -- and voters who think and act like pundits -- should be cautious to discount the two women in the top tier of the race.

If Sens. Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar surprise Tuesday night in the first-in-the-nation primary, it will change the contours of the race immediately.

Warren told ABC News on Sunday that she was in for a "long" primary fight.

It's true she has a sophisticated staff already well positioned around the country, and there is a still a good chance voters end up finding her to be a "not too hot, not too cold" -type of candidate. That she's a progressive who does not aim animosity towards the party itself.

Warren's hometown Boston media market overlaps into southern New Hampshire and a she could get a boost too from volunteers and staff who know her well and live nearby.

Klobuchar's team says they have had fundraising success and new attention paid their way since her strong debate performance Friday.

Speaking to a crowd in Salem, New Hampshire, on Sunday evening, she said, "We are surging."

While polling suggests it's still a stretch, for example, if Klobuchar were to outperform Biden here it could rejigger the entire field.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

Monday brings the eve of the New Hampshire primary, but it also brings another day in the chaotic aftermath of the Iowa caucuses.

Iowa Democrats raced to correct inconsistencies in results from 55 precincts, or 3%, of the more than 1,700 precincts over the weekend -- as flagged by the campaigns of Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and some county chairs. The state party ultimately crowned Buttigieg the winner out of Iowa, awarding him just two more delegates than his closest rival, Sanders.

But potentially further stalling an end to the disastrous caucuses is the prospect of a recanvass -- or at least a partial one, which is expected to be requested by the Sanders campaign on Monday, in which the party will have to double check all math worksheets and reporting forms to ensure they were reported accurately.

Despite the urgency to keep their first in the nation status, it seems as though final, complete, definitive results from the caucuses could potentially come after New Hampshire. Amid the mess, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez is signaling that 2020 might be Iowa’s last as the premier contest on the calendar, telling CNN, "Well, that's the conversation that will absolutely happen after this election cycle."

ONE MORE THING

On Friday, seven candidates faced off in a Manchester, New Hampshire, debate hosted by ABC News. This could be voters' last look at the candidates before the state casts its votes for a Democratic nominee on Tuesday, and we once again partnered with Ipsos to track how the debate affected likely primary voters' feelings about the candidates on the stage. The FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll, conducted using Ipsos's KnowledgePanel, interviews the same group of voters twice, once on either side of the debate, to capture both the "before" and "after" picture.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning's episode features a conversation with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in New Hampshire. He tells us how former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is coming under attack from former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., ahead of Tuesday's primary. Then, ABC News' Maggie Rulli brings us the latest on the coronavirus outbreak, which has now killed more people than the SARS epidemic. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom appears on ABC's "The View" at 11 a.m.
  • President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the White House Business Session with Governors at 11 a.m. He has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. and greets Parkland, Florida, families in the Oval Office at 3:30 p.m. Then, on the eve of the first-in-the-nation primary election, Trump travels to Manchester, New Hampshire, and delivers remarks at a campaign rally at Southern New Hampshire University at 7 p.m. before returning to Washington.
  • Vice President Mike Pence attends a "Cops for Trump" event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at 1:45 p.m. Later, he joins Trump in delivering remarks at a campaign rally at Southern New Hampshire University at 7 p.m. before separately returning to Washington.
  • New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley hosts a press phone call at 10 a.m. to provide a final update ahead of Tuesday's primary and on Trump's evening visit to the Granite State.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., has a meet-and-greet event in New London, New Hampshire, at 9 a.m. Later, he has a town hall in Manchester at 3 p.m.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has a get-out-the-vote event in Keene, New Hampshire, at 9 a.m. She then attends a Rotary Club meeting in Nashua at noon. Later, she has two more get-out-the-vote events: in Exeter at 3 p.m. and in Rochester at 7 p.m.
  • Andrew Yang has four town halls in New Hampshire: in Rochester at 9 a.m., in Concord at noon, in Portsmouth at 2:30 p.m. and in Manchester at 6:30 p.m. Later, he has two rallies: in Derry at 8 p.m. and in Keene at 10 p.m.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has breakfast with voters in Manchester, New Hampshire, at 10 a.m. He then has a town hall in Rindge at noon and a get-out-the-vote event in Hudson at 3 p.m. Later, he has a concert rally with The Strokes at Whittemore Center Arena in Durham at 7:30 p.m.
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick delivers remarks at the "Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Forum" in Concord, New Hampshire, at 10 a.m. He then has a town hall in at New England College in Henniker at noon. Later, he meets with voters at The Bookery in Manchester at 5 p.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden has two get-out-the-vote events in New Hampshire: in Gilford at 11:30 a.m. and in Manchester at 6:15 p.m.
  • Tom Steyer has a get-out-the-vote event at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, at 2:15 p.m. He then has a town hall on "The Right to Learn" -- part of his "5 Rights" platform -- in Rock Hill at 7 p.m.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has a get-out-the-vote event in Rochester, New Hampshire, at 2:15 p.m. Later, she has a town hall in Portsmouth at 5:45 p.m.
  • Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has two get-out-the-vote rallies in New Hampshire: in Milford at 5:30 p.m. and in Exeter at 8 p.m.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, has a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, at 6 p.m.
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