Democrats across the country are beginning to believe.
They are daring to believe that the national nightmare could be coming to an end, that Donald Trump will not only not be reelected, but that Democrats could also flip the Senate.
But, this is a hope, a possibility, that they are refusing to give voice to.
They are still stung by the shock of 2016. They believed the polls that said Hillary Clinton would win. Their faith in all polling remains shaken.
They tell themselves, “Take nothing for granted.” Allowing themselves to even entertain the notion that they are ahead is a threat to enthusiasm. Some may feel like they are behind, even though they aren’t.
But, the fact remains: If Election Day were today and access to the ballot was unencumbered and undisturbed, it is most likely that Joe Biden would become our next president.
Donald Trump and his campaign see the same data that the rest of us do, and campaigns also have internal data that they don’t make public. Trump sees himself behind and sees that calendar winding down. And, no matter what he’s done in the last few months, the race has barely changed.
This is why Donald Trump is attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the election, doing everything he can to suppress the vote, and refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Because he doesn’t believe that he can win.
It is clear that he is consumed by the prospect of losing.
As he told the crowd at a rally in Macon, Georgia, on Friday: “Running against the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics puts pressure on me. Could you imagine if I lose? My whole life, what am I going to do? I’m going to say I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics. I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don’t know.”
Not only can we imagine him losing, it is clear that he can as well. In fact, Trump has repeated some version of the passage at rallies for the last few days.
And Trump isn’t even trying to make a case for a second term. He isn’t laying out a vision and a plan. He is simply demonizing Biden and painting the darkest possible vision of an America where he loses as Biden wins.
The following lines come from speeches Trump has delivered in just the last few days:
“If he wins, the radical left will be running the country, and they’re addicted to power, and God help us if they ever got it, because we would never have the same country again.”
“If he wins, there will be nothing but bedlam all over the place.”
“If Biden wins, China wins, all these other countries win.”
“If he wins, the radical left will be running the country. He won’t be running the country. The radical left will take over.”
“If Biden wins, your borders are gone, which means your health care is gone, the middle class is gone, and your safety is gone.”
“If Sleepy Joe Biden and the Democrat Socialists are elected, every citizen in America will be subjected to their extreme ideology, possessed by this Marxist madness.”
It is a sign to me that he fully expects his reelection bid to fail. It means that Democrats' optimism about the election outcome is well placed. This man is panicking. He made it clear when he said at a campaign rally in Michigan on Saturday:
“And you know then they say, they’re taking away … Me, I’m taking away their freedom. Then they say, ‘If you lose, will you have a friendly transition?’ I say, ‘I want a fair election.’ Then they say, ‘Will you have a fair … We want a fair and friendly transition.’ I said, ‘Really? Well, when I won, you spied on my campaign, we caught you trying to overthrow the president of the United States. You’re crooked as hell. And we caught you, and let’s see what happens to them. But you’re crooked as hell.’ And to me, that didn’t exactly look like a friendly transition.”
The postelection drama threatens to be a disaster that could truly test America’s institutions and indeed our democracy itself. But, we’ll just have to deal with that when we get to it.
Now, we are witnessing something else that we must not overlook: a rejection of hate, division and dishonesty. We are witnessing America acknowledging that character matters.
I dare not make election predictions because to do so is folly. There are still two weeks remaining in this campaign. Anything could happen. But, the situation for Trump continues to be dire and time is running out.
I’m allowing myself to believe.
Charles M. Blow is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.