A head fake, or laying the groundwork for a blowout? Well, Team Clinton has (a) lots of resources to throw around, and (b) a sophisticated data operation -- so either possibility is plausible. It could be a hybrid explanation: We're looking at a campaign that feels secure in its path to 270 electoral votes, that has money to spare, and that senses an opportunity to run up the score. Regardless, these are not the moves of a timid, worried political organization:
Robby Mook announces Clinton campaign will invest an additional $2 million for TV/digital ads and direct mail in AZ. FLOTUS to visit Thurs.— Adam Wollner (@AdamWollner) October 17, 2016
Clinton campaign will also invest $1 million in IN & MO, states w/ key SEN & GOV races. Mook acknowledges "uphill battle" for Clinton there.— Adam Wollner (@AdamWollner) October 17, 2016
This National Journal correspondent also reports that Clinton is pumping millions into traditional battlegrounds to shore up her standing in those states, plus injecting additional funds to try to win competitive districts in two states that apportion electoral votes proportionally -- Maine and Nebraska. In addition to deploying Michelle Obama to Arizona this week, Chelsea Clinton and Bernie Sanders are also being sent to the state on Hillary's behalf. Two consecutive polls show Clinton pulling ever so slightly ahead of Donald Trump in the reliably red state, where the Republican's RCP average lead has been whittled down to just one point. Indiana and Missouri are bigger stretches for Clinton, but both are theoretically within reach, and each state features an important Senate race that could help determine whether Chuck Schumer or Mitch McConnell is majority leader if and when Clinton takes office. Meanwhile, a Democratic poll out of Alaska points to a one-point race up north -- which isn't necessarily a crazy outlier; a recent Republican poll gave Trump just a three-point lead in the state. Meanwhile, in Texas:
Just in: @HillaryClinton's campaign is launching a one-week ad buy in Texas, per an aide.— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) October 17, 2016
That spot will apparently run in the Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin metro areas, as the Clinton camp seeks to press its advantage, and possibly rattle Trump. This move strikes me as more of a psych ops maneuver than anything else, but Trump hasn't led a Texas poll by double digits since August, and the RCP average has him up by less than six points. Perhaps Hillary's folks are just sowing some seeds in case the bottom truly drops out from under Trump over the next few weeks. While we're discussing the electoral map, consider the Washington Post's model flipping Florida and North Carolina into the "lean Dem" column, with Missouri and Alaska being downgraded from "safe GOP" to "lean GOP." The GWU/Battleground poll shows Hillary Clinton surging out to an eight-point lead, while CBS News' swing state polling gives her a six-point advantage. But wait, here's CNN's latest polling release:
CNN polls don't look so amazing for Clinton: +2 in Nevada, +1 in North Carolina, Trump+4 in Ohio— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) October 17, 2016
Virtually tied in North Carolina and Nevada, and losing in Ohio. Some left-leaning poll crunchers are questioning these numbers, arguing that CNN's likely voter screen is far too tight, and noting that Clinton holds comfortable leads among registered voters in the Tar Heel and Silver States. Since I've more or less foresworn poll unskewing since 2012, I'll analyze these results at face value and suggest that if Clinton is locked in very close battles in those two states (and again trailing in Ohio), perhaps expanding into places like Arizona and Texas is a miscalculation. Her campaign's internal numbers may be telling a very different story. After all, they were savvy enough to elevate Trump, knowing they could decimate him. I'll leave you with another eyebrow-raiser out of Utah. Is this really happening?
Here it is. New poll has Utah a statistical dead heat:— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) October 17, 2016
Allahpundit: "When you look at other recent surveys of Utah, Rasmussen’s numbers are closer to the consensus. Before YouGov’s poll yesterday, the last time Trump led by double digits there was more than a month ago. Two other recent polls (Y2 Analytics and Monmouth) had McMullin at 20 percent or better and Trump’s lead over Clinton at six points or less. And those polls were conducted mostly before the sexual-assault allegations began dropping."
Monmouth (national, likely voters)— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) October 17, 2016
Battleground @QuinnipiacPoll:— Janie Velencia (@JanieVelencia) October 17, 2016
CO: Clinton 45 - Trump 37
FL: Clinton 48 - Trump 44
OH: Trump 45 - Clinton 45
PA: Clinton 47 - Trump 41