Twenty-twenty makes a Miss Cleo of every Nostradamus. This century packed into 366 days unveils at least one more surprise: the election of America’s first brain-damaged president or the reelection of the first president suffering from Tourette’s syndrome.
Either way, Tuesday makes history. But right now, it makes for not the past but the future. So, predict, as I do, at your own peril.
Recent polls show Donald Trump winning by one (Rasmussen Reports), losing in a 12-point landslide (CNN), and every scenario in between. The same surveys that predicted a Hillary Clinton victory in 2016 now display a 13-point gap (the people who tell us what we think never learn). Given that most presidential elections fall well within a 13-point margin, what good are the polls? Jimmy the Greek relied on science more than these turkeys.
Winners say, “Congratulations.” Losers offer a sharp, “No fair.” America, in every presidential election in my voting lifetime, opts for the latter reaction. Russia, not the United States, elected the president. The president’s secret Kenyan birth makes him constitutionally ineligible for office. The Supreme Court selected rather than elected the president. If not for a short Texan with funny ears, then then big Arkansan with a funny voice would have lost. This election follows this unsportsmanlike pattern whether the victor wins by 0.2 or 10 percent.
Some states count early ballots early. Others count them late. With 80 million ballots already cast, all this matters. Arizona counts ballots upon receipt, and Iowa begins tabulating the day before Election Day. So, if the president performs poorly in those states, the overall result might become known on Tuesday evening prior to the 2:51 a.m. victory speech from 2016. But North Carolina accepts ballots received by November 12 and Pennsylvania accepts ballots until November 6, so Election Day might extend past Veterans Day. Perhaps Americans learn that this year’s real election comes on December 14, when the Electoral College meets.
The media declares him receiving a mandate from the American people to pack the court, sign into law the Green New Deal, and so much of what he did not promise to do. This mandate happens not when a candidate wins by a wide margin but when a Democrat wins by any margin. When Bill Clinton won with 43 percent of the vote — the lowest percentage by a victor since Woodrow Wilson in the four-way 1912 race — Time magazine headlined its cover “Mandate for Change.”
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MSNBC breaks from its election reporting to show a marathon of Lockup: Extended Stay. CNN, in keeping with its coverage of Tony Bobulinski, Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation vote, and any random Donald Trump rally, decides to carry on, much like their furloughed chief legal analyst, as though it never happened. Chelsea Handler and any other total-politics TV talkers who confess to pursuing therapy after Donald Trump’s initial victory (but duck their dinners with Jeffrey Epstein) soon enter a more serene, padded environment better suited to handle their pathologies.
A prediction about predictions? Most get it wrong. Most offering them self-mercifully forget them the day after the election. Most hearing them forget them because they unmercifully hear so many of them.
A peculiar thing about predictions: listeners hear them as hopes rather than guesses based on the available facts. This falls under what psychologists call projection. Because so many confuse their wishes for what’s coming, they think you do, too. The available facts lead us to contradictory conclusions for Tuesday. The aggregate of the polls indicates that Joe Biden wins the presidency. The past performance of the polls shows Donald Trump as that rare magician to confound and astound the bean counters. Does one go with data or history?
We all boast 20/20 vision in hindsight. But 2020 made us all legally blind when it came to seeing the future. Strangely, the people who laughed at a Donald Trump victory in 2016 again ridicule the president’s prospects. If you lack the ability to critically view yesterday, then hopes of seeing tomorrow seem all but lost.
Everyone: buckle up.
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