It’s understandable if Donald Trump and his supporters find inspiration in the Chicago Cubs.
Less than a week ago, the Cubs were down three games to one in the World Series. Armed with their computers and stats, the numbers-crunchers and odds-makers gave the Cubs a 17% chance of coming back to beat the Cleveland Indians. It would require winning three games in a row, baseball’s version of pulling an inside straight.
Of course, as we all know, the Cubs did exactly that and won game 7 by a single run in extra innings. In the wee small hours of Thursday morning, just days after being read their last rites, the Chicago Cubs were crowned World Series champions. It was the team’s first title, as you have heard ad nauseam, since 1908.
And what about the World Series of American Politics, that vicious and brutal cage match held every four years?
Two weeks ago the much-followed FiveThirtyEight website fed all the numbers into its formulae and gave Donald Trump about 12% chance of winning on November 8th.
Meanwhile, our pal John Stossel touts ElectionBettingOdds, a platform he helped create. Like any good Libertarian, Stossel puts his faith in the people and says the best poll of all is one that gauges where bettors put their own hard-earned money. Two weeks ago these self-interested Americans had Trump with a 14% chance of beating Hillary Clinton.
But Donald Trump has closed that gap significantly, most significantly over the past week. Both FiveThirtyEight and ElectionBettingOdds now give Trump about a 30% chance of completing his unlikely comeback. And momentum definitely is on his side. To torture our baseball metaphor, it’s the eighth inning of Game 7 and Hillary Clinton is desperately clinging to a one-run lead.
Why the shift so late in the game?
No doubt, FBI boss James Comey gets credit for an assist. His announcement that the FBI has resumed investigating the Clinton email situation turned a drip-drip-drip into a flood of rumors and accusations. Beyond that, every day there are new WikiLeaks revelations showing that the Clinton machine will do whatever it takes to win. The inescapable feeling is that they believe laws and propriety and ethics are for the little people.
Meanwhile, there is still enough time for more dirt to be heaped on both sides. Perhaps Julian Assange has an ace up his sleeve regarding the Clinton Foundation, or there could be another video portraying Donald Trump as an uber-misogynist.
As Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes asked in 1982, ‘Who Knows What Tomorrow Brings?’
No matter who wins the election Tuesday, most Americans will be very uneasy. And with good cause. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton presided over President Obama’s countless failed policies around the globe. The world is a mess and Secretary Clinton’s fingerprints are all over it.
Beyond that, a Clinton victory means a lame duck president will be replaced by a badly wounded one. There will surely be more investigations, more questions about law-breaking, more immunity deals, and the constant threat of impeachment and a constitutional crisis.
On the other side is Donald Trump, completely untested on the world stage. Having a clean sheet, politically speaking, he is able to make grandiose promises about returning American leadership abroad and economic prosperity at home. That brings to mind another song, this one by The Essex called ‘Easier Said Than Done.’
Donald Trump, as we all know, has a terrible tendency to say offensive things without thinking. He seems to be learning, finally, that running for the Oval Office is not the same thing as cracking wise with Howard Stern.
In recent days Mr. Trump has been relatively disciplined, talking about ObamaCare and other policies. Mrs. Clinton has been busy denouncing her opponent’s history with women, even trotting out the former Miss Universe for an encore performance.
The good news is that it’s almost over and the rest is up to us. We can hope for a fair election, an undisputed result, a gracious concession speech, and some real problem-solving.
Sure, that’s a lot to ask for and the odds are against it. But, hey, the odds against the Cubbies also seemed insurmountable. They rose to the occasion.
Finally, there is one more thing we can all pray for: No extra innings!