Cautious Optimism? Or Cautious Pessimism?

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

If you had to guess right now, would you say that Donald Trump is set to win? Or set to lose?

The math folks are pessimistic on his odds – the RealClearPolitics average nationally has him down a bit, and in key swing states Biden is up. But, Trump has also been trending upward and could end the campaign season within the margin of error in virtually every metric.

Could.

When it comes to messaging, I’m pessimistic (of which I’ve made it no secret). He had a solid message in the economic performance of his administration – even with the pandemic – and there are signs he has been able to move black male and Hispanic family voters in his direction, but he has time and again allowed himself to become bogged down with too many other messages, and it’s kept him off his game.

However, on the flip side, you have Joe Biden running virtually the same campaign slogan as Mitt Romney did in 2012: “At least I’m not that guy!” Eight years ago, voters rejected that message and kept with the status quo. The problem though is that Trump is no Barack Obama and doesn’t have the media on his side. It keeps Trump more on the defensive than Obama had to be.

There are a few things that seem to play in Trump’s favor, though. His base is way more excited about him than Biden’s is about their candidate. Trump has boat parades while Biden has a handful of supporters standing in socially-distanced circles. Trump has people willing to go to bat for him while Biden has people willing to go to bat against Trump, though not necessarily for him.

It is nearly impossible to tell what will happen tomorrow. I have never seen so many people who know way more than me this unsure in a very long time. Yes, part of it is them wanting to avoid making mistakes in judgment like they did four years ago, but another part of it is undoubtedly how strange and chaotic this year has been. Nothing has really made any sense, and it’s making the waters muddier.

I won’t tell you who to vote for, because if you’re reading this you have already made your choice. What I will say is that you cannot, no matter what side you’re on, assume it’s already been won. I get the feeling we won’t know until late tomorrow night.