As much as I enjoy Chris Mathews and Hardball, he's really full of a lot of crap these days, I think in no small part because of his frustration that the Clinton campaign has so effectively managed his beloved free and reckless press sensibilities.
Yesterday on Hardball Chris foolishly suggested that Clinton's numbers were in "free fall" since her poor performance in an earlier debate regarding immigration. Also that this is why she was slinging some dirt on Obama, suggesting he said something in his foreign kindergarten. Again obviously this was not Clinton gasping for some poll air, rather floating a test balloon to see how negative stuff will gain traction against Obama. Given that it's not working well look for this type of petty attack to stop for the next few weeks, only to return in full force if Clinton is not leading in Iowa 2 weeks out.
She may have dropped a bit, but hardly a free fall Chris, and the main reason for the Iowa surge by Obama is ... obviously ... the fact this is almost make or break for his campaign! Hilary is running a national campaign already, and has done it very effectively. Obama is running an Iowa campaign and he's done that very effectively. However his numbers nationally and in New Hampshire suggest no staying power even with an Iowa win. He'll get a buzz boost if he wins Iowa, and this could lead to a NH victory or great showing which would could *concievably* make him nationally competitive, but this is unlikely.
Prediction: Clinton will come on strong in Iowa in last few weeks, and will win by 5-10%. She'll handily win N.H., and the race will largely be over as soon as it began. Obama has a shot at VP though his views are so compatible with Clinton's I'm not clear he'll be part of the strategy.