His job this morning on Scarborough’s show, I take it, was to play counter-oracle to Nate Silver for the benefit of D.C.’s left-leaning political class. If the guy who correctly called the 2012 election is worrying you, fear not — the guy who won the 2008 election is here to tell you that this thing is in the bag.
Here’s what Silver’s “now-cast” of the election looks like this morning. Remember, a key reason why he became a star on the left four years ago was because the steadiness of his model reassured worried liberals that Obama was comfortably ahead the entire race. That’s what the state polls said and the state polls were right. His model, based on state polling, was their security blanket through the ups and downs of the election. So when Silver starts panicking, lefty politicos have a major morale crisis on their hands. And Silver is most definitely panicking:
Clinton still leads in FiveThirtyEight’s “polls-plus” model, which incorporates economic data, etc, into its projection along with the latest polls, but she’s down to a 51.5 percent chance of winning versus 48.5 percent for Trump — a jump ball. At no point in 2012 was Romney ever that close, even after he stomped Obama at the first debate. If you don’t trust Silver for whatever reason, though, just look at the polls today that he’s working off. Bloomberg has Trump ahead nationally by two; Quinnipiac has Clinton ahead, but by just one point. Dead heat. Pennsylvania, which had been her firewall, is now down to a one-point Clinton lead, per CNN’s latest; as I noted yesterday, the latest Muhlenberg poll of Pennsylvania has her ahead by just two. Dead heat. Colorado, which looked like a Clinton landslide just a month ago, has seen a barrage of polls in the last 72 hours showing Trump either narrowly behind or ahead in the four-way race: Clinton by two, Trump by four, Clinton by one, and now Trump by one in this morning’s CNN survey. Her lead in RCP’s poll average of Colorado is down to 0.2 points(!). Dead heat. If you’ve looked at an electoral map at any point over the last few months, you know that Hillary can win with a bare minimum of Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia, and New Hampshire among the battleground states — but if any of those bricks in her firewall start to crack, the whole thing caves in. Well, two are cracking. And Trump can deal them a hard blow with a strong performance tonight.
Put all of that together and you see why Team Hillary and the Democratic brain trust wanted Plouffe out there this morning. He’s the guy who masterminded the election of the first black president, by a landslide no less. He and O were on the cutting edge of data analysis and microtargeting in 2008. If anyone out there has banked enough cred with the left to tell them, semi-persuasively, to pay no attention to Silver, it’s Plouffe. He elaborated on what he said to Scarborough in an interview with Greg Sargent of WaPo, all but guaranteeing victory this fall on the theory that Trump has a hard ceiling of support whereas Hillary doesn’t:
When you look at how 100 percent of the vote is likely to be allocated in Florida, I get very optimistic….I can get Donald Trump to within two or three in Pennsylvania, but I can’t get him to a win number. The same is true in Virginia and Colorado. I know everybody goes crazy about the latest Cheetos poll, but I feel very confident about both New Hampshire and Florida. So that puts her over 300 [in the electoral college]. Trump has to pull off a miracle in the electoral college…
In Pennsylvania, she’s going to come out of the southeastern part of the state — Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs — with a margin of probably 500,000. Could be more. There just aren’t enough votes in the rest of the state to make that up. This simple fact is why most smart Republicans will tell you: they can get Pennsylvania close, but in the electoral college, close doesn’t mean anything…
[Colorado is] a state where the Hispanic vote is of great importance. She’s probably going to win it by more than we did. There are a lot of college educated suburban swing voters who have swung between the parties through the years. The Denver suburbs, I think she’ll win them probably by more than we won them in 2012. The Latino margins she’ll rack up — and her over-performance with swing suburban women and even men — that’s why Colorado and Virginia are so tough for him.
Obama won Colorado by nine points in 2008, so Plouffe telling you that he thinks she’s going to win it by more than that is a solid sign that this is mostly hand-holding spin for the left that even he doesn’t believe. The key to victory going forward, he insists, is for Clinton to create some “excitement” around her campaign and prove that she’s head and shoulders above Trump in terms of her fitness for office, and the debates are supposedly golden opportunities for that. That … would not encourage me if I were a Democrat; the words “Hillary Clinton” and “excitement” have never resided comfortably in the same sentence. He’s trying to make it seem like it’s still her race to lose, but the terrible truth for lefties that Plouffe won’t admit is that Trump probably controls his own destiny at this point. Clinton will be Clinton tonight but no one knows what to expect from Trump. If he rises above the caricature of himself as a swaggering ignoramus, the core Clinton argument against him, that he’s dangerously unqualified to be president, will weaken and there may be no recovering from that. Three solid debates might finish her off. With the stakes that high, I hope he prepared and didn’t decide to wing it by “letting Trump be Trump.”