Ever been stuck in a really awful, really long movie you can’t leave because you’re trapped in a middle seat, the crowd is cranky, and a few in your group are into it? That’s this election. Still, as America squirms through the final scenes, here are my three things to watch this week.
CHECK PLEASE! Maybe it was the lewd talk, maybe the venomous debates. Whatever the cause, the GOP walk-away from Donald Trump could turn into a stampede this week. The surest sign is a smattering of new ads which say nothing about the party’s nominee, but are pushing for the re-election of Republican members of Congress because, you know, checks and balances. It’s not an explicit admission the Dems will keep the White House, but it’s pretty close. Unless Trump reverses the rapid descent of his campaign and fast, watch for this to become the party’s chief talking point – and look for many more of those commercials.
GRUMPY TRUMP/HAPPY HILLARY Remember when Trump looked like he was having the time of his life on the campaign trail? Laughing. Smiling. Making jokes about crying babies. Now, not so much…and with good reason. The polls show the gap between Trump and Hillary Clinton is turning into a chasm. Of course, Trump and his crew are dismissing the numbers, but some Dems are worried—too afraid if it looks like a sure win for Clinton many voters who are backing her just to oppose Trump may not show up. Watch for Dem talkers to keep pounding the “every vote matters” mantra.
ROUNDING THE BASES If you live in what still passes for a battleground, brace yourself. The campaigns will be relentless this week in terms of ads, visits and surrogates in such places. It may be hard for partisans to believe there are still “undecideds” out there, but remember: scads of voters have been very turned off by both candidates, turning even a few of them back on in a critical state could make all the difference.
CNN’s Tom Foreman is the author of My Year of Running Dangerously