If there’s one thing savvy Massachusetts gossips do well, it’s doom-say the hometown team. A slow start has them dismissing the fourth-place Red Sox’ playoff chances barely a month into the season, just as they despaired of the Patriots after their 1-2 start.

Many have formed the same attitude toward Elizabeth Warren’s Presidential campaign. Just four months in, and 10 months away from the first primaries and caucuses, I’ve been told more times than I can count that her White House quest is effectively over and done; a corpse waiting for burial; a doomed and hopeless endeavor.

The campaign, which I caught up to in Las Vegas, Nevada, this past weekend, seems pretty upbeat and positive for one supposedly on a death march.

Partly that’s a reflection of the candidate herself. Warren seems to draw energy and enthusiasm from campaign audiences, as she has since the first days of her maiden race against Scott Brown eight years ago.

This past Saturday evening, the 69-year-old senator came bounding out to greet some 500 Democrats in a high school cafeteria at ten past six. “We’re gonna have fun,” she said, doing a twirl for emphasis. Nearly two hours later, in her now standard picture line, she was still grasping hands as if making a new best friend with each of them.

Warren, according to those in and around the campaign, has a focus and discipline that has helped keep everybody’s eyes on the long-term plan, despite early bumps in the road. There have been disappointing poll results and fundraising numbers. The former darling of the left has been overshadowed by other candidates’ turns hogging the news cycles—most recently, frontrunner Joe Biden finally entering the race last week.

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Yet last week, surprisingly, was the best one of the campaign to date, according to several on team Warren.

It started with a CNN town hall appearance that Monday, followed two days later by the livestreamed She The People forum at Texas Southern University. She shined in both—and was able to stand out in contrast with other candidates appearing back-to-back.

That emphasized Warren’s deep, and constantly growing, roster of policy proposals. Suddenly, the policy wonk has re-branded as the candidate who’s “got a plan for that”—a phrase from an early-March New Yorker blog post headline that has superseded “nevertheless she persisted” as the unofficial campaign motto.

Any of the 20-plus Democratic candidates can persist; being the one with the plans has started to help Warren stand out from the crowd. It’s also drawn a wave of good media attention, which in turn reinforces that branding.

Then, early this week, three national polls all showed Warren, while far behind Biden and also trailing Bernie Sanders, leading the rest of the pack. The margin was barely significant, if at all, but her squiggly line on the Real Clear Politics rolling average ticked up into third place.

Read more: Is Joe Biden A Disaster Waiting To Happen?

The polls led in turn to more media coverage, particularly where many progressives (and Democratic donors) get their cues. Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight promptly bumped Warren up into his second tier, along with Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg behind Biden. On MSNBC, commentators including Mika Brzezinski and Steve Kornacki talked up Warren’s polling climb.

Perils and potential

The phrase “Warren has a plan for that” runs atop one section of the wall in the campaign’s Las Vegas headquarters. Below it, against a turquoise blue similar to the sweater Warren wore at the high school rally, are big check marks beside policy topics: Universal Childcare, Affordable Housing, Universal Free Public College, and so on.

Nevada will vote third in the Democratic Presidential nominating contest this year, holding its caucuses after Iowa and New Hampshire but before South Carolina. If Warren survives Iowa and wins next-door New Hampshire, Nevada will be crucial to her momentum heading into the Southern States and then Super Tuesday.

When I visited the office Monday morning, the campaign had 11 people on staff in the state; on Wednesday, a group of new organizers started, bringing the total to around 20. They expect to open a field office in East Las Vegas later this month, followed by another in Reno.

The Nevada outreach began in earnest last year; as in Iowa, where the campaign has at least 50 people on the payroll, there is a dedication to early and constant field organization, utilizing all the latest tools and oldest tricks in the book.

Read more: Warren Campaign Carries Big Payroll; Plus, Female Staffers Setting Salary Highs

They also have a secret weapon, far away in Boston: the campaign’s communications director, Kristen Orthman. A Boston Latin alum, Orthman was a top staffer for Nevada Senator Harry Reid before Warren hired her two years ago. She helped run Reid’s re-election campaign in 2010, and the Nevada Democratic effort in 2016.

Throughout the Warren campaign structure, and among her enthusiastic supporters, there is a lot of pride in the candidate’s reputation for detailed, ambitious policy plans.

History does not suggest, however, that nominations always go to the candidate with the most plans.

It’s a mysterious mélange of factors that leads a voter to have faith in a candidate to achieve desired goals. Specific policy plans might be one ingredient, for some voters. But most are swayed more by less measurable factors, such as rhetorical prioritizing of an issue; a connection to it in the candidate’s personal background; a projected sense of competence or leadership; or a well-crafted 30-second advertisement.

Specific plans, frankly, tend to give people something concrete to dislike. The more plans, the more chance the voter will find something to be turned off by.

Warren and her advisers are not unaware of that. They seem to understand that being the candidate with the plans can help her stand out, but won’t seal the deal. Her core stump speech, while heavy with policy, starts and ends with emotional observations of her working class parents and her own early struggles; the vaunted plans, and her dedication to them, are made to seem as though they extend directly from those experiences.
Plus, she’s become really good at sticking to her punch lines, and packing an emotional wallop into the tear-jerker stories.

And, she remains disciplined, very disciplined — focused on the big picture issue, that have animated her for years and will remain (presumably) at the center of her campaign to the end. Unless asked, Warren avoids mention of the news of the day, or the week, on the stump.

Yet, the news cycles persist. By Wednesday afternoon, Kamala Harris was riding a wave of left-wing attention from her performance at Attorney General William Barr’s hearing.

Perhaps Warren’s mini-bump was just a lull between the Buttigieg cycle and one for Harris. People on the campaign get that. They’re trying to keep an even keel, during rough stretches and good ones.

You can tell, though, that it’s been nice for them to have a good week.