In baseball, a team entering the ninth inning with a two-run lead will bring in their closer to secure the victory. However, if the team has to rely upon a less-skilled reliever, there is always a chance they will blow the lead. A single bad pitch could wipe out the advantage they built over the first eight innings.
As we head into the late innings of election 2016, the Democrats have a modest lead. If they had a top-tier campaigner like Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, the race would be over. But, they have a less skilled campaigner at the top of the ticket, which gives the GOP an outside chance for a comeback.
To be clear, Hillary Clinton is the favorite to win in November. The Rasmussen Electoral College Projection shows that she is currently leading in states with 347 Electoral College votes. Trump has the advantage in states with only 191 votes. But the lead isn't quite as safe as those numbers imply. Six states and one Congressional District in Maine are just leaning in Clinton's direction. If Trump were to take all of those leaners, he would win the Electoral College by the narrowest of margins, 270-268.
There is probably not enough time for the Trump campaign to win those states on its own. However, there is definitely enough time for Clinton to lose them.
While she has many skills, Hillary Clinton is not a great candidate on the campaign trail. Over the years, she has demonstrated a proven ability to be remarkably tone-deaf and say just the wrong thing at the wrong time. During this campaign season, there will certainly be moments when the candidates have to respond to breaking news. Horrible as it is to contemplate, there could be another shooting of police officers or foreign policy disaster. Would Clinton's response give Trump the opening he needs?
And, of course, it's possible that Clinton could say something damaging to her campaign when asked about her email practices and the pay-to-play allegations surrounding the Clinton Foundation. This problem is made worse by the fact that the candidate appears incapable of understanding why anybody would seriously question her integrity. But, you can be sure that the Trump campaign will raise plenty of such questions in campaign ads, debates, and other forums.
The debates themselves offer a unique challenge to Clinton. The conventional wisdom among political insiders is that Clinton will demolish Trump on the debate stage. That could happen. But it's at least a reasonable possibility that Trump could rattle the frontrunner and cause her to stumble. Since expectations are so low for Trump, any such stumbles would be magnified.
It's also possible that the debates will put on display one of Clinton's least attractive qualities — her apparent sense of entitlement. The Politico, a publication for Washington insiders, reports that Clinton is already "resentful" over the fact that Trump is trailing her by just a few points. In her view, he is so unworthy that it shouldn't even be close. Will she resent being forced to appear on stage with him? If that attitude comes through, the frontrunner's unfavorable ratings could inch even higher.
The race is Clinton's to lose, but she's a weak enough candidate that losing is a possibility.
To find out more about Scott Rasmussen and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.