Were Ben’s predictions correct? | On Politics | Chicago Reader

Were Ben’s predictions correct? 

He wrote this column Monday and said the winner would be . . .

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click to enlarge So here we go . . .

So here we go . . .

David Lienemann; Shealah CRAIGHEAD

As I write this, it’s Monday—a day before Apocalypse Showdown Part II.

At this moment, everyone I know is freaking out with angst and anxiety. Let me break free from the moment and take you back in time . . .

It’s November 4, 2016. Almost four years ago—a day, as I recall, that was also filled with angst and anxiety. Frankly, folks, I’ve just about had it with this angst and anxiety.

But back to November 4, 2016. It was a Friday—a few days before the presidential election—Clinton v. Trump.

I had a phone conversation with Robin Amer, then my editor at the Reader. Feels like five billion years ago—eh, Robin?

Dutifully on top of things, as she always is, Robin wanted me to plan ahead for my column that would hit the streets on the following Wednesday.

So, get this. On a Friday, Robin wanted to know what I’d be writing regarding an event that wouldn’t take place till Tuesday. So that I’d look really smart and on top of things come Wednesday.

Man, that Robin Amer was tough on an old columnist!

As I chatted with Robin, I stood next to the Picasso statue in Daley Plaza, trying to be heard over the din of passing cars and buses.

The conversation went a little like this . . .

Robin: You gotta write a column, if Trump wins or if Hillary wins . . .

Me: You know Trump’s not gonna win.

Robin: But what if he does?

Me: C’mon, Robin—America’s too smart to elect a dufus like Trump.

Let’s just say it wasn’t my finest moment in prognostication.

Four days later I was sitting with Robin at the old Reader office, watching her trying to stay sane as each of the so-called Democratic firewall states—Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—crumbled.

It was a rough night. To her credit, Robin refrained from reminding me of just how wrong I was in my prediction.

Instead, she was making mournful sounds with each new depressing update. There was a sigh. A grunt. An anguished cry.

In the category of good news, Chicago went big for Hillary. Well over 80 percent.

That motivated Jake Malooley—another Reader editor who was in the office—to wisecrack: “I knew we lived in a bubble. I didn’t think it was on another planet.”

It’s still a great line, Jake—four years after you made it.

Well, here we are four years later. Robin and Jake have moved on. But I’m still here. Like the guy in The Incredible Shrinking Man, the great ’50s sci-fi flick. How did he put it?

“I still exist!”

So, let’s pretend I’m standing outside the Picasso statue. And my cell phone rings. And it’s Robin, telling me I gotta write a column about an event I can’t possibly foresee.

Again, I’m writing this on Monday. You’ll be reading this on Wednesday. And you’ll know things that have not yet occurred. 

Now, before I take the dive, let me point out that there are several strategies when it comes to prediction making.

There are the cautious souls, who want to be able to say they’re right, even when they’re wrong. So, they cover themselves with conditional comments. Making their predictions read like the fine print of a real estate contract crafted by clever lawyers.

That way when you hold them accountable, they get all lawyer-like and go—Well, if you recall, what I actually said was . . .

Then there are the worry warts who think that what they predict might actually work against the outcome they want to happen.

Like a long-suffering Chicago sports fan who predicts his team will lose in order to avoid jinxing them so they wind up winning.

Like their negative prediction can trigger fate in their favor.

In reality, nobody knows who’s going to win. We’re all reading the same campaign articles. We’re all following the same polls. It comes down to a hunch.

In which case, what’s the point of being like a namby-pamby Chicago sports fan? Let’s go strong. No, cowering in the corner for me!

So, here we go . . .

Biden holds on to all the states that Hillary won. And, then . . .

The firewall holds!

That’s right—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are going Blue.

No matter how much voter suppression Donnie’s boys try. And they’re already trying a lot.

Damn, going strong is fun. Here’s more . . .

Biden wins Arizona and North Carolina.

Hell, I’m gonna throw in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Texas—just ’cause I can.

Point is Trump’s going down. He’ll be howling like the cry baby that he is. And whining about fraud and hoaxes. And sending his lawyers to court. But . . .

He’s going down.

Take it to the bank, Robin . . .  v

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