With eighteen days to go in the Presidential campaign, thinks looked very bleak for Team Trump, not to mention the Republican majority in the Senate. With eighteen minutes to go in Super Bowl 51 regulation time, things looked even bleaker for the New England Patriots, who were 25 points behind the Atlanta Falcons. The eventual winning teams had contributed to their own troubles to this point with a series of unforced errors.
Obviously we know how both stories ended, and we know that both required a steady, not rapid, progression of events.
The slow shift in the campaign at the eighteen day mark came in Gettysburg, where Trump revealed his “Contract with the American Voter,” a mostly conservative manifesto of policy solutions from a candidate not known for his conservatism. It was a subtle shift, perceptibly, but it was to start a chain of events that eventually carried Trump over the finish line.
As the 18 minute mark in the Super Bowl, LeGarrett Blount ran for 9 years, his longest carry of the night. It came one play after Tom Brady had scrambled for 15 yards, one of the longest carries of his career. Those two plays, hardly the stuff of highlight reels compared to other moments in the game, also marked a subtle but necessary shift. New England finally scored a touchdown a minute later, and the comeback was on, albeit at a very slow pace.
Four days later, on October 26th, Trump had his finest moment of the campaign – with his brilliant “under budget and ahead of schedule” speech – one he set up perfectly by baiting the media in with the assumption they could embarrass him for taking a day off the campaign to open the property. The laugh was on them, as the speech was a campaign home run, given that nothing under Obama had ever been ahead of schedule, let alone under budget.
And yet, as you know, both teams came back to win dramatic and satisfying victories – while those on the losing side are left to suffer through the worst kind of defeat possible.