OPINION: Countdown to the 3rd: Picking a winner

Biden or Trump; the unofficial Evergreen prediction comes in Oct. 29

2016 took us all by surprise, but with careful number-crunching, we might be able to get a more accurate prediction this year.


2016 took us all by surprise, but with careful number-crunching, we might be able to get a more accurate prediction this year.

JACOB HERSH, Evergreen columnist

“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away, and know when to run.”
-Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”

Some men neglect their wives and families and take to the horse racing track, watching flared nostrils and pounding hooves, praying for a shot at the big money. Others watch the greyhounds, a sport that’s surprisingly real and isn’t a thing made up for “The Simpsons.”

If racing animals isn’t your thing, you can go to the fights — to hell with prostitution, bloodsport is the world’s oldest profession. Boxing, wrestling, UFC, MMA, bare-knuckle — whatever your poison, there’s someone who’ll take your bet on it.

I haven’t even touched the other sports — if “Uncut Gems” taught me one thing, it’s that jewelry store owners will die to bet on their home team. (Spoiler alert, I guess, but come on.)

And yet, there’s a far greater and more tantalizing thrill than any of these combined. It combines the rabid intensity and ferocity of professional violence with the cunning and strategy of any NFL quarterback. It attracts the sickest and most depraved gamblers to try their hand, and those that win and lose both end up in the same gutter, decrying their loss or cursing their win in the same breath.

It’s politics.

Predicting the national election has become high art to policy wonks in this day and age. FiveThirtyEight, CNN, RealClearPolitics, Rothenberg and Gonzales — they’ve all got a hand in the political predictions game.

It’s a dangerous world because the stakes are so much higher. The political sickos know this and flock to the sport in higher numbers each year for one very simple reason. Degrade and sneer at the political cesspool in this country, but in terms of pure entertainment and suspense, it can’t be matched by any bloodsport or Kentucky Derby.

With all this in mind, we’re getting down to the proverbial wire in terms of the presidential election, and the stress is palpable on the faces of pundits and voters alike. Flip on Fox, MSNBC or CNN and watch airbrushed anchors desperately try to keep it together as they crunch the latest reports.

I’ve written this series of columns for about two months now, and I’ve tried to keep them all fairly varied in scope and range, not fixating on one particular facet or segment of American politics.

There comes a time, however, when all the sarcastic postulation and irony-drenched analysis run up against a wall, and the only thing really to talk about is “Who’s going to win?”

As such, I’m giving myself a deadline.

On Oct. 29, informed by whatever research I’ve compiled and analysis I’ve read, I will call the election for whichever candidate I believe has the best chance of winning. Whether I’m right or wrong (I’m always right) remains to be seen, but crystallizing months of speculation into one guess is the end goal of this column.

Dear readers, we’ve laughed together. We’ve cried together. I’ve been called an alt-right troll, a snowflake and been compared to horsesh-t, which comes with the terrain, I suppose. At any rate, there are only three weeks left until the election at which point the “countdown” will be over, and I can stop cranking out these half-baked columns and go back to my first love — Kabuki theater.

Set your watches. Mark your calendars. Polish your rifles. In two weeks, I’m making my pick and solidifying it in print — and come Nov. 3, we’ll see how close I got.