NEW YORK — Staring down tightening polls both nationwide and in the battleground states, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook on Monday circulated a private memo to donors, supporters, and top volunteers that maps out the Democratic nominee’s various paths to the White House in November, paired with his analysis of Donald Trump’s own precarious path.
“Here’s the story that no poll can tell: Hillary Clinton has many paths to 270 electoral votes, while Donald Trump has very few. Hillary is nearly certain to win 16 ‘ blue' states, including Washington D.C., which will garner her 191 electoral votes,” writes Mook in the nearly 2,000-word memo that was blasted out in the early evening, and which was obtained by POLITICO. “If we add the five states that FiveThirtyEight.com gives Hillary a 70% or greater chance of winning (Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin), Hillary only needs 10 more electoral votes."
Writing at a time when Democrats are growing increasingly nervous about the state of the race — and as leading party members like President Barack Obama and Clinton herself are loudly warning that the vote is going to be close — Mook then runs down the possibilities for Clinton to win the remaining 10 electoral votes: taking Florida’s 29 electoral votes, North Carolina’s 15, Ohio’s 18, or any two of Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, or Nevada.
“Put a different way, of these battleground states, Hillary can win just one (Florida, Ohio, or North Carolina) and win the presidency, which means the six additional states would only add more electoral votes to her total,” he writes. “Donald Trump, on the other hand, must win six of these seven states, including Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio — none of which he can lose."
Mook’s analysis tracks with what top party strategists have been saying about the Democrat-Republican split for months, though it clashes with the Trump team’s own inclusion of Pennsylvania in the battleground mix. Clinton, for her part, has also drilled down on that state, calculating that it should go her way but that the Republican’s chances are nearly nonexistent without it.
Titled “50 days until Election Day,” the memo serves in part as a way to calm down hand-wringing party members who are increasingly concerned that Trump is gaining on Clinton — her lead in the four-way RealClearPolitics national average is 0.7 points, down from its peak of 7.6 in early August. But the note is also a rallying mechanism, urging supporters to make more calls and knock on more doors in the home stretch.
It runs through some of Clinton’s policy positions and some standard knocks on Trump — including quoting GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, who this summer said Trump’s insistence that a judge of Mexican heritage couldn’t be unbiased in a case involving the candidate is “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
But it doesn’t stray far from Clinton’s public line, except to go hard negative against Clinton’s opponent at a time she is striving to push a more affirmative, not just anti-Trump, message.
The missive also identifies some of Democrats’ structural and infrastructural advantages, such as the higher proportions of young voters and people of color in the battlegrounds than in 2012, before — in a tried-and-true campaign maneuver, taking pains to calm backers by dismissing public polls and the media.
“You’ve heard us say many times that public polls must be taken with a grain of salt, but here’s why we should just dump out the entire salt shaker: in early September, an ABC/News Washington Post poll showed Hillary leading by eight points. Four days later, Reuters/IPSOS released a poll saying Hillary’s lead was only one point. Here’s my favorite: earlier this month, a CBS/YouGov poll showed Hillary winning Ohio by seven points (46-39) and three days later a Bloomberg Poll came out showing Trump winning Ohio by five (44-39),” Mook writes.
“A swing of 12 points in three days? Go figure. Is Ohio a very close contest? YES. Battleground states carry that name for a reason: they’re going to be close, from now until Election Day."