Donald Trump takes lead over Hillary Clinton in new poll

Averages show tightening presidential race as nominees ‘barnstorm’ swing states

Republican Donald Trump has taken a one-point lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton for the first time since May in the latest Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll, reflecting a tightening US presidential race.

The New York businessman's 46 per cent to 45 per cent edge over his opponent, while falling within the poll's three-point margin of error, reflects a decline in enthusiasm for Ms Clinton since FBI director James Comey renewed an investigation into her use of a personal email server as US secretary of state.

Most of the polling was conducted after it emerged that the FBI was investigating new emails discovered on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressman and estranged husband of Ms Clinton's long-time aide Huma Abedin, prompting an angry response from the Clinton campaign.

Ms Abedin, the vice-chairwoman of Ms Clinton’s campaign who has been at the nominee’s side throughout her presidential bid, remained off the campaign trail for the fourth day since news of the FBI inquiry broke.

A CNN average of the five most recent national phone polls still gave Ms Clinton a lead of 46 per cent to 42 per cent over Mr Trump, although the race has narrowed since the final debate on October 19th.

In the last two weeks, Ms Clinton's advantage, based on the Real Clear Politics average, has fallen to two points from six, although she still has an edge over Mr Trump in the electoral college system that determines the election, holding leads in the battleground states of North Carolina and Arizona, must-wins for the Republican nominee, and her "firewall" state of Pennsylvania.

Healthcare act

Ms Clinton and her top surrogates swept through key swing states with the nominee and her husband,

Bill Clinton

, campaigning in different parts of Florida, President

Barack Obama



and vice-president

Joe Biden

in North Carolina – three states that will decide the November 8th election.

At a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, Mr Trump attacked Mr Obama's healthcare act and promised to rebuild the US military. He also visited Wisconsin on Tuesday as part of his final-week push to broaden his electoral chances by trying to win two states that have not voted Republican since the 1980s.

He is scheduled to hold rallies in Florida, the biggest swing state, on Wednesday before returning to Pennsylvania again on Thursday in addition to two further stops in North Carolina. The challenge facing the property magnate in winning over Republicans turned off by his campaign was reflected in the votes of two high-ranking party officials.

Ohio governor John Kasich, one of the candidates who lost out to Mr Trump in the Republican primary and a long-time opponent of the party nominee, said that he wrote in the name of 2008 nominee Republican John McCain instead of voting for Mr Trump on his absentee ballot on Monday.

Despite deciding not to campaign for Mr Trump after he was caught on a 2005 tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, Republican House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan said he fulfilled his promise to support his party's nominee when he voted early at home in Wisconsin last week.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent