Hours before official New Hampshire results appeared Tuesday, Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook conceded to staffers, supporters and some reporters that the Granite State race was lost, in a memo obtained by PBS NewsHour that urged the Clinton team to focus past February and on March.
“The first four states represent just 4% of the delegates needed to secure the nomination,” Mook wrote, “The 28 states that vote (or caucus) in March will award 56% of the delegates needed to win.”
The lengthy memo appears eight days after Clinton narrowly won the Iowa caucuses, squeaking out a numeric victory over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that was so close, the two were nearly tied in the number of convention delegates won.
A substantial victory by Sanders in New Hampshire would put him well ahead of Clinton in the nomination-determining delegate count.
Mook’s memo aimed to point away from not just Iowa and New Hampshire, it also seemed to play down the importance of the next two votes: the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 20 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27.
“From a mathematic perspective, it’s clear why March is so important: voters in large states with large delegate allotments will cast their ballots,” Mook wrote.
The memo could be both a strategic rallying cry after a difficult first two weeks as well as a warning shot to Sanders. Mook pointed to what the Clinton camp sees as a must-win advantage over Sanders: its strength with minority voters.
“Many of the most delegate-rich states also have some of the largest minority and urban populations — states like Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Illinois and Florida,” Mook wrote. “It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for a Democrat to win the nomination without strong levels of support among African American and Hispanic voters … Hillary’s high levels of support in the African American and Hispanic communities are well known. She has maintained a wide double digit lead over Sen. Sanders among minority voters in national surveys.”
Sanders’ positions on guns, immigration and Obamacare make him vulnerable with minorities, Mook argued.
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The three-page e-mail then turned from demographic tactic to broader strategy, stressing that not only must Clinton win in the more than two dozen March contests, she must often dominate.
“In many cases, that the margin of victory (or defeat) within a given state is actually more important than whether the state is won or lost,” Mook wrote, highlighting the need to rack up numbers of delegates, which are often awarded proportionally to the size of a candidate’s win. To do that, Mook laid out a four-pronged plan using data, on-the-ground operatives, key surrogates and targeted ads.
Even as he argued for Clinton’s strategy and underlying strength, Mook seemed to cast the former frontrunner as a strong candidate, not the expected nominee.
“When you take into account the large number of Super Delegate commitments we’ve secured, as well as Hillary’s commanding lead in the polls in delegate-rich states, she is in a very strong position to become the nominee,” Mook concluded.
Read the full memo below: