Team Clinton tries to lower Nevada expectations with incredible (i.e. false) claims

After setting up an impressive team of Nevada veterans, including some noteworthy Hispanic operatives, Hillary Clinton arrived in May to lay down a marker on immigration reform.

She met with DREAMERs, who endorsed her last week. She talked a better game on executive orders than President Obama. Her team exuded confidence, especially since Bernie Sanders didn't even have an organization in Nevada.

That was then.

After the disaster in snow-white New Hampshire and the near-death experience in colorless Iowa, Team Clinton suddenly was trying to make Nevada sound as if its rainbow of voters did not exist.

“There’s going to be a narrowing in both places (South Carolina and Nevada) — we’re clear-eyed about that,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told NBC's Chuck Todd, as reported by BuzzFeed's Ruby Cramer. “There’s an important Hispanic element to the Democratic caucus in Nevada. But it’s still a state that is 80 percent white voters. You have a caucus-style format, and he’ll have the momentum coming out of New Hampshire presumably, so there’s a lot of reasons he should do well.”

80 percent white? What?

This canard was later repeated Wednesday by Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, according to Politico's John Bresnahan. And it was then repeated on a conference call, ABC's Liz Kruetz reported.

I understand the desire of Team Clinton to lower expectations in Nevada after being crushed by Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. But both Mook and Fallon know that 80 percent figure is ludicrous, and the attempt to make Nevada seem like Iowa and New Hampshire is a spin too far.

The facts:

Nevada's Hispanic population is about 27 percent. African-Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders make up almost 10 percent each. That is, nearly half of the state's population is made up of minorities.

The Democratic caucus population was 35 percent minority in 2008, according to exit polls, and is expected to be as high as 40 percent in 2016, according to local Democratic sources. This is nothing like the 90 percent white caucus participation in Iowa, for instance.

One Clinton campaign source explained that some of the campaign's modeling showed an 80 percent turnout in Nevada come Feb. 20. This would be the model constructed after 14 martinis, perhaps. Or, more likely, one that does not exist except in the fevered imaginations and panicked consciousnesses of a Clinton organization that just last year was touting its minority outreach in Nevada.

The inestimable Adam Nagourney of The New York Times ignored the nonsense in a piece Wednesday that pointed out that Nevada is "as racially diverse as Iowa and New Hampshire are not."

There is no reliable polling in Nevada -- at least not yet. But the conventional wisdom had been that Clinton had a huge advantage here, especially because Team Sanders did not arrive until October. Not anymore.

I don't smell a rat. I smell something much more pungent from the Clinton campaign: fear.