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Friday, 4 November 2016

US presidential race tightens, but Clinton still ahead


WASHINGTON: The battle for the White House tightened on Thursday, with a fresh poll showing Hillary Clinton’s lead ebbing and Donald Trump winning over once wary Republican voters days before the monumental vote.
A CBS/New York Times survey showed Clinton leading 45 per cent to her Republican rival’s 42pc, with the vast majority of supporters saying their minds are made up.
After months of vitriolic and turbulent campaigning, political tribalism appears to be returning to the fore in the deeply divided nation ahead of Election Day on Nov 8.
Profound Republican scepticism about Trump’s controversial candidacy appears to be ebbing.
Despite the Manhattan real estate mogul’s boasts about sexual assault and allegations of groping by about a dozen women, white women are evenly split between the two candidates, the poll showed.
Similarly, Clinton’s troubles with the FBI over her use of a private email server appears to have dissuaded few Democrats, with only eight percent saying it would make them less likely to vote for the former secretary of state.
With the campaign now in its final stages, each candidate is making final arguments to voters, crisscrossing battleground states and carpet-bombing the airwaves with high-priced ads.
But neither candidate wants to make a mistake and the race has taken on a frenetic yet formulaic quality.
Even Trump is sticking to the TelePrompTer and avoiding his most explosive rhetoric as the campaign winds down.
“Nice and cool. Right? Stay on point, Donald, stay on point. No sidetracks, Donald — nice and easy,” the 70-year-old billionaire said out loud during a rally in Florida.
Instead he has warned voters that a Clinton presidency would be overshadowed by indictments, and renewed his vow to “drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington.
Clinton and her phalanx of high-powered surrogates — among them presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton — have argued Trump is “uniquely unqualified” for the Oval Office.
On Monday, the eve of the election, Clinton, her husband and the Obamas will campaign together in Philadelphia in a show of Democratic force. Trump has ridden the aftershocks of the Great Recession and waves of antipathy toward the political elite to the gates of the White House.
Could he yet cause an upset? “Democrats are quite right to be nervous about the outcome,” said a team of political analysts at the University of Virginia.
But, they added, there was no “compelling argument” that the race favors Trump or is even a toss-up. Financial markets have lurched as the race as tightened — trying to “price-in” a Trump victory that they had long thought impossible.
But even at this late stage, a Trump win would be a political surprise on par with Harry Truman’s victory over Thomas Dewey in 1948.
As Trump and Clinton try to energize their base and mop up as many votes as possible, attention is increasingly turning to the political landscape after the election.
The Nov 8 polls will not only decide who wins the White House, but the scale of the new president’s mandate and who controls Congress.