For most of this campaign, it felt like Hillary Clinton was coasting. In truth, she was probably (on average) only four or five points ahead. But considering Donald Trump’s inability to run a disciplined campaign, this seemed like a safe cushion.
Today, that cushion has been ripped to shreds.
There have only been a few times during this race where Clinton was playing defense for a sustained period. The last occurrence was after Clinton fainted at a 9/11 memorial service. But Trump’s momentum was stalled by Clinton’s superior performance in the first debate, which changed the subject from Clinton’s health and trustworthiness to Trump’s comments about a former Miss Universe.
There are no more debates left for Trump to botch. And despite FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress on Sunday (saying no evidence had surfaced in the recently discovered trove of emails that would change his decision not to charge Clinton), this campaign may end in a way that almost nobody could have predicted — with Trump somehow resisting what must feel like an overwhelming temptation to go off script.
Regardless of who wins, what I’m really rooting for is a clear declaration of the winner on Tuesday night. John Dunagan, a public affairs executive who previously ran the Bush-Cheney ’04 effort in Michigan, recently told me something — perhaps tongue in cheek — that scared me more than anything I heard this past Halloween: “Maybe on election night … we have a 269-269 electoral map and a 50/50 Senate.”
Believe it or not, this isn’t as implausible or crazy as it sounds. In a year where game seven of the World Series goes 10 innings, anything is possible.
I still expect Hillary Clinton to win this election. Her ground game is superior and she has more money. What is more, because of early voting, numerous votes were banked before Comey’s October Surprise dropped. But I must confess that I am nervous about this prediction.
Roll Call columnist Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to the DailyCaller and author of the book “Too Dumb to Fail.” Follow him on Twitter @MattKLewis.