When I think of the presidential campaign, I keep recalling those old Westerns where the bad guys blow up a railroad trestle and the train crashes into a deep gorge.

The only question is, who’s the engineer?

Despite what I hear from progressives, the job is still up for grabs. That Hillary Clinton will be picked in November to put her hands on the controls is not assured.

Many people think Donald Trump (the last person I would have picked as the Republican nominee, as if that mattered) may end up holding the keys to the Oval Office. As it happens, they make an interesting case.

What about Clinton? Well, the delegates at the Republican convention may have been chanting “Guilty!” and “Lock her up!” during Chris Christie’s rousing “indictment” speech Tuesday, but that’s not gonna happen.

But keeping her a private citizen could, so let’s look at Trump’s chances as things stand now. First, some polls:

• The Real Clear Politics poll average this week has Clinton up by just 2.7 points, well within the margin of error of any major poll.

• On Tuesday, analyst Nate Silver said on his FiveThirtyEight site (there are 538 votes in the Electoral College), “Trump’s odds have improved. He has a 36 percent chance of winning the election (according to one model) and a 38 percent chance (according to another).”

This has led to “a lot of consternation among Clinton voters: Why isn’t her position safer? There’s really about a 35 or 40 percent chance that Trump will become president? Based on the polls, we think the model is setting those odds about right. The race is a long way from being a toss-up, but a 3 or 4 percentage point lead heading into the conventions isn’t all that reliable, either. While Obama won twice with pre-convention leads of about that margin, John Kerry went into his convention with a lead of about 3 percentage points in 2004, but lost to George W. Bush.”

Silver says polls over the next few weeks should show “convention bounces” for both candidates, but if Clinton doesn’t end up 3 to 5 points ahead in September, that’s a bad sign for her.

• Then add this from The Washington Post: On Monday, reporter Aaron Blake wrote, “It’s hard to overstate just how bad Clinton’s (disapproval) numbers are.” But, “while Clinton is hitting a new low,” Trump’s negatives, which are only slightly worse than hers, “seem to have leveled off and maybe even improved a bit in recent months.”

• John Brabender, a Republican strategist, wrote in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday that Trump needs to win all the states Mitt Romney won in 2012, but of course that’s not enough.

However, he said, “the best news for Trump” is that “with the right nominee,” Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which all have Republican senators and two have Republican governors, “aren’t afraid to vote Republican.” And he adds Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire to the list.

• Historian Victor Davis Hanson, a top-ranked conservative social critic, on Tuesday listed “Ten Reasons Why Trump Could Win” on National Review Online.

The whole thing’s worth reading, but his top three in my view are these: 1) While both are “elitists,” Trump speaks in a popular idiom while Clinton “talks down” to the average person; 2) Trump is not as disliked by minorities as liberals and the media think he is, because many Americans in all groups see unrestricted illegal immigration as a threat; and 3) As with the Brexit vote on the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, many Trump backers are likely to keep their views to themselves, making polls (which misread the EU outcome) unreliable here too.

• Regarding Brexit, columnist Anne Applebaum wrote June 24 in The Washington Post, “Identity politics trumped economics; arguments about ‘independence’ and ‘sovereignty’ defeated arguments about British influence and importance. The advice of once-trusted institutions was ignored. Elected leaders were swept aside. If that kind of transformation can take place in the U.K., then it can happen in the United States, too. We have been warned.”

• And echoing Hanson and Applebaum, Republican strategist Steve Schmidt nailed it down Wednesday in a Real Clear Politics interview: “Don’t underestimate the power of the cultural condescension that millions of Americans feel from the elites in this country. From the beltway, to New York City, to Hollywood, millions of Americans feel condescended to culturally.”

Of course, they feel that way because they really are condescended to, and more than just “culturally.”

If they support Trump, this race may become a very unpleasant surprise for some of our most arrogant elitists.

I’m not sure we all deserve Donald Trump, but from Hillary Clinton on down, these people could use the ice-water hose-down his election would represent.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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