Former President Barack Obama took a break from the campaign trail in Michigan Saturday to shoot a few hoops. Before leaving, he casually sank a three-pointer as a few onlookers cheered, flashed his trademark grin and announced, “That’s what I do!”

He then posted the short video on Twitter with a message to go out and vote: “Shoot your shot.”

While stumping in Flint and Detroit with his former running mate, Joe Biden, Obama sought to bring an aura of calm to Democrats who are usually Eeyores about elections (yes, I had some tell me he was going lose Michigan in ’08 when he won by a blowout 16-point margin). They’re also freshly scarred by some 2016 denial that someone as bigoted and mean as Donald Trump could even eke out a narrow Electoral College win.

Obama has told voters what’s at stake on Tuesday, how we’ll handle a pandemic that’s already killed 230,000 people, health care, climate change, the economy with millions suffering and out of work, racial justice and more.

He also let loose on Trump a few times, no doubt to provoke the president who led the racist birther conspiracy against him — but also to let Dems know they could take a break from their usual routine of doomscrolling, coffee and anxiety dreams.

“Some of the places [Trump’s] holding rallies have seen new spikes after he leaves town. He’s going around having events, big events, no masks, no protective gear, no precautions. What’s his obsession with crowds, anyways? He’s still talking about his inauguration crowd being small, although he doesn’t admit it,” Obama said Saturday. “Does he have nothing better to worry about? What kind of trauma did he go through – did no one come to his birthday parties when he was a kid?”

Trump also takes shots at people at his rallies, although he passes by routine mockery and goes straight for full-on racism, like attacking U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Somali refugee, by claiming she “hates our country.”

He’s also said of the extremist right-wing assassination plot against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, “People are entitled to say maybe it was a problem, maybe it wasn’t.” And he’s still whipping up violent rhetoric against the media, celebrating MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi getting hit by a rubber bullet at a Black Lives Matter rally by calling it a “beautiful sight” and adding, “It’s called law and order.”

Updated: Trump repeatedly attacks Whitmer during rally in governor’s hometown

So yeah, a lot of folks probably need a psychological break from that kind of dark and twisted rhetoric.

There’s also a profound confidence gap between Democrats and Republicans that I’ve been writing about for a decade, long before the traumatic ’16 election. Republicans always think they’re winning, even when they’re not — increasingly fueled by a conspiracy-crammed right-wing media bubble. And if they lose, they don’t mourn or reflect. They get reflexively angry, like the corporate-funded tea partiers after the first Black president took office. Now with extremist movements like QAnon, so-called militias and the Boogaloo Bois, many have moved on to talking about — and in Michigan, plotting — civil war.

Democrats, on the other hand, almost always think they’re blowing it. Even if they win, they promptly dissolve into self-doubt (“Maybe we are a center-right country. Maybe we shouldn’t do too much too soon or editorial boards will write mean things about us.”)

There was one exception — 2016, when a fair number of Dems were convinced Trump was too far-right to get elected and women like me let their hopes get in the way about finally having the first female president in Hillary Clinton.

But things have reverted to the mean in 2020, which is why reporters have an insanely long list of Dems to call when they want to write their “Could Dems blow it?” piece. Over the last week, there’s been a healthy contribution to the Dem panic porn genre, from freakouts over a poll in Iowa (a marginal swing state) to Trump enlisting rappers to win young Black male votes to more “they still love Trump in Trump country” treatises.

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These stories are incredibly tempting to write because they’re as irresistible as your kids’ Halloween candy after they’ve gone to bed. Republicans will ingest them because they live for liberal tears and Dems will devour them because self-flagellation is an essential part of their pre-election routine.

But the reality is that Biden is ahead in national poll averages and has several good paths to an Electoral College victory. There’s about as good a chance of a narrow Trump win as there is a Biden blowout at this point.

I’m not saying Dems have nothing to worry about. The list is heart-palpitatingly long of things that can go awry, starting with the polls being way off — they would have to be worse than in ’16 — underestimating a surge of new Trump voters in some key states.

There has been voter suppression and electoral violence in harrowing parallels to the Jim Crow era, like in Texas, where a caravan of Trump supporters tried to force a Biden bus off the road, and in North Carolina, where police pepper sprayed voters and their young children on their way to the polls. Republicans have filed a slew of suits to make it harder to vote across the country and throw out ballots. And Trump and Republicans are preparing to litigate the results if Biden wins, which is why installing conservative Justice Amy Barrett before the election was of the utmost importance.

So yes, there’s plenty to keep Dems up at night. And I would never downplay the seriousness of the struggle. But there is only so much that any one person can do right now.

Obama clearly believes one of his key jobs this election is deploying a bit of levity and using his superpower of preternatural calm. Because he knows that worrying doesn’t win elections. And a little joy can go a long way to ease the human spirit.

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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.