Nowhere was this confirmation bias more evident than it was earlier this week as the Clinton team and much of the leading news pundits began pre-emptively dissecting Trump's visit to Mexico City and his subsequent speech on immigration policy in Phoenix. Their "conventional wisdom" was that the trip would fall flat and the immigration speech would simply feature more of the same rhetoric Trump opponents already pre-judge as racist bombast. Some slightly less brainwashed observers did grudgingly admit the Trump photo op with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto made Trump look more presidential. But they quickly joined the rest of the self-assured anti-Trump chorus when they bashed his immigration speech as a failure and insisted whatever good the optics of Trump's meeting with President Peña Nieto earned.
That was despite the fact that the speech really honed Trump's immigration message into a clear move against illegal immigrants with violent criminal records. And it's been breathtaking to see the contortions his opponents have subjected themselves to in order to convince themselves that trying to protect Americans from violent crime is somehow a bad message.
And of course, the recent Trump improvement in the polls isn't enough to shake them out of their religious-level reverie. Even poll guru Nate Silver has noticed the polls are tightening and the trend is favoring Trump, at least over the past few weeks. And more importantly, Silver has been correct in pointing out that if Trump does eventually overtake Clinton in the national popular vote it's very unlikely he will not do the same in the state-by-state electoral college battle.
Clinton's lead over Trump has narrowed to just over 4 points, according to the latest Real Clear Politics average of recent polls. In fact, two national polls (USC Dornsife/LA Times and Rasmussen Reports) actually shows Trump ahead.
But Team Clinton and most of the experts don't seem to think this means anything. Exhibit A: Clinton continues to lay low as if there's no way Trump could do anything she could ever need to counterattack with a major campaign appearance or event. And, the majority of the news media headlines and analysis about Trump focus on how he's an impossibly inept candidate with no support among mainstream Americans.
This smells like the elements of a nuclear-level trap confirmation bias. There's just no way this kind of self-assuredness at any point in a presidential election is warranted. Bigger — much bigger — deficits in the national polls have been overcome before in presidential elections. And with at least two national polls showing Trump actually now ahead, this would seem like a good time for everyone to reassess.
Interrupting your schedule to only to attend Tim Cook-hosted fundraisers and sending out well-produced but still nasty Tweets about Trump aren't the way to respond if your lead is narrowing. But hey, Clinton and probably everyone around her think she's got the election in the bag and they don't seem to care about much else.
Outside of the Clinton team, there's a more important audience that needs to get a better handle on the truth. That would be the American people, many of whom have only been told and are thus convinced that Clinton cannot lose. That mirrors the situation we saw earlier this summer in Britain, where the public was told daily by everyone from the political pundits to the gambling odds makers that the Brexit side would never win. Well, Brexit did win and the surprise outcome fueled a mostly unwarranted hysterical market reaction and national period of whining we could hear clear across the Atlantic.
The reaction to a Trump win in November would make the Brexit response look like a hiccup. Much of that surely loud and possibly violent response would be fueled by the surprise of it all. Anti-Trump Americans will feel a sense of betrayal by a news media and an overall establishment that didn't properly warn them of the outcome. It's time they started letting the public know there's a 50/50 chance this thing won't turn out their way.
Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.
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