Clinton and Trump make last-ditch efforts to win votes

Democrat and Republican candidates crisscross the US on the final campaign day

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Photograph: Zach Gibson and Damon Winter/The New York Times

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Photograph: Zach Gibson and Damon Winter/The New York Times

 

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump crisscrossed the US on Monday, racing to sway undecided voters and to mobilise their supporters to vote in a tight presidential contest that, according to opinion polls, narrowly favours Clinton.

With only one day left before election day, the Clinton campaign was boosted by Sunday’s unexpected announcement by FBI director James Comey that the agency stood by its July decision not to press any criminal charges in an investigation of Ms Clinton’s email practices while secretary of state.

The latest opinion polls showed Ms Clinton was ahead in the election.

A Fox News poll showed her leading Mr Trump, a wealthy New York real estate developer, by four percentage points among likely voters.

Ms Clinton also held a four-point lead in an ABC/Washington Post poll and a CBS news poll released on Monday.

Financial markets brightened on Monday in reaction to the latest twists in what has been a rollercoaster presidential campaign.

Global equity markets surged, as did the US dollar, putting them on track for their biggest gains in weeks, as investors saw Sunday’s announcement by Mr Comey as boosting Ms Clinton’s chances of winning.

Opinion polls show a close race, but one that was tilting towards Clinton (69).

Major bookmakers and online exchanges were more confident than public opinion polling that Ms Clinton will win.

PredictIt put her chances of capturing the White House at 81 per cent.

Both Ms Clinton and Mr Trump (70) were spending the final day racing across a handful of battleground states that could swing the election, given the electoral college system that awards the White House on the basis of state-by-state wins.

Mr Trump, who had never previously run for public office, held his first campaign appearance of the day in Sarasota, Florida, where he and Clinton have been locked in a tough battle in a state with a large Hispanic voting population.

Speaking at a campaign event, Mr Trump gave no ground to Ms Clinton or to polls showing her with a narrow lead.

Predicting he would win, he told supporters in Sarasota that Ms Clinton “is such a phony”, and, “we’re tired of being led by stupid people”.

Mr Trump also had stops planned in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Michigan, closing with a late-night rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Email fallout

The FBI’s James Comey sent shockwaves through the race on Sunday when he told Congress that investigators had reviewed recently-discovered emails and found no reason to change their July finding that there was no criminal wrongdoing in Ms Clinton’s use of a private email server, rather than a government system, while she was secretary of state from 2009-2013.

It was uncertain whether the announcement came in time to change voters’ minds or undo any damage from days of Republican attacks on Ms Clinton as corrupt.

Tens of millions of Americans had cast early votes in the 10 days since Mr Comey first told Congress of the newly-discovered emails.

“Nothing’s going to change between today and tomorrow to help [Clinton] win back [undecided voters],” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Mr Trump, who drew widespread criticism last month when he said the election was rigged against him and that he would not commit to respecting the outcome, questioned the thoroughness of the FBI review and said the issue would not go away.

Tammy Regis (42) a disabled US army veteran who served in Iraq and now lives in Palmetto, Florida, said she would not trust the outcome if Ms Clinton wins.

“If she wins, no I won’t. I just think it’s really shady,” Ms Regis said, adding that she did not know why Mr Comey “flip-flopped” on Ms Clinton’s emails.

Ms Clinton was to make two stops in Pennsylvania and visit Michigan on Monday before wrapping up with a midnight rally in Raleigh, North Carolina.

She was to appear at an evening rally at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall with US president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as musician Bruce Springsteen.

Clinton campaign

Speaking briefly to reporters before boarding her campaign plane in Pittsburgh, Ms Clinton pressed her commitment to bringing the country together.

“I think that these splits, these divides that have been not only exposed but exacerbated by the campaign on the other side are ones that we really do have to . . . bring the country together,” Ms Clinton said.

Since entering the race in 2015, Mr Trump has challenged political norms with his bombast, personal attacks and unorthodox policies, including proposals to bar Muslims from entering the US and build a wall on its southern border to keep Central Americans from entering it illegally.

In October, his campaign was rocked by the circulation of a 2005 video in which he boasted about groping women.

While such controversies have given Ms Clinton the edge among women and minorities, Mr Trump enjoys solid support among non-college educated whites.

For both candidates, turning that support into actual votes is critical to building the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election.

Markets have tended to see Ms Clinton as the status quo candidate, with more uncertainty over Mr Trump.

Global financial markets slipped last week as polls showed the race tightening, with news of the renewed FBI investigation apparently fueling a slide in Ms Clinton’s poll numbers since late October.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll showed MS Clinton with a 5 percentage point lead over Mr Trump nationally - 44 per cent to 39 per cent support - while races in Florida and North Carolina shifted from favouring Ms Clinton to being too close to call.

Voter intimidation

Meanwhile, the US supreme court on Monday refused to reimpose new restrictions in Ohio on partisan poll-watchers that Democrats had sought to prevent voter intimidation on election day, handing a victory to Republicans.

The Cincinnati-based US circuit court of appeals had on Sunday removed the restrictions that US district court judge James Gwin had put in place two days earlier.

The justices left in place Sunday’s decision by a federal appeals court that had thrown out restrictions imposed by a judge on Friday on people who monitor voting activity, saying they may not interrogate voters within 30m of a polling place, block them from entering or photograph them as they come and go.

Voter intimidation is prohibited under US law, but Democrats have pushed for greater restrictions in Ohio and five other battleground states, citing concerns that Mr Trump‘s incendiary rhetoric on the campaign trail might inspire election day turmoil.

The brief court order issued a day before the election included no noted dissents from the eight justices.

Liberal judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a brief statement noting that “Ohio law proscribes voter intimidation”, citing the relevant law.

On the campaign trail, Mr Trump has called on supporters to keep an eye on voting activity for possible signs of fraud in large cities.

Numerous studies have found that US voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

Reuters