This campaign season has felt impossibly long. It feels like a decade since Jeb Bush was considered the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, since we first learned of Hillary Clinton’s rogue email server, or since names like Lincoln Chafee and George Pataki were actual candidates for president.
But here we are, more than two years since the so-called “invisible primary” process began, finally approaching the finish line of the 2016 presidential elections and the race is really heating up. Businessman Donald Trump has surged in recent days after news broke that the FBI is re-opening its investigation into Hillary Clinton after additional emails turned up on the computer of Anthony Weiner, who is under investigation for sending sexually explicit text messages with an underage girl.
The result, as John Wagner writes for the Washington Post is a hectic race to hit as many states and reach as many voters as possible before Tuesday:
Democrat Hillary Clinton will spend the final days of the election trying to protect her lead in key battlegrounds, reflecting a tightening, unusually volatile race against Republican Donald Trump.
Trump, whose electoral college prospects are narrower, is banking on a late-hour attempt to win at least one blue-leaning state — and to dramatically drive up turnout in rural areas in a collection of battlegrounds where he must prevail on Tuesday.
With four days left on the campaign trail, both candidates and surrogates blitzed across the country Friday, making stops in states where polls have narrowed in recent days.
The race hasn’t just “narrowed,” Hillary Clinton’s lead has utterly collapsed. RealClearPolitics’ “No Toss Ups Map,” which assigns states’ electoral vote based on who leads in the polls, had Clinton winning 333 to 205 just a week ago. Today Clinton is up by a tally of 273 electoral votes to 265, a virtual dead heat. Even more portentous for Clinton’s electoral college hopes is a gradual erosion of her lead in New Hampshire.
“There’s been a potential breach of Hillary Clinton’s electoral firewall,” polling guru Nate Silver writes. “And it’s come in New Hampshire, a state that we said a couple of weeks ago could be a good indicator of a Donald Trump comeback because of its large number of swing voters.”
The three most recent polls of the Granite State showed a tied race, Trump ahead by one percentage point, and Trump up by 5 points, respectively. This makes Clinton’s firewall “less of a firewall and more of a rusting, chain-link fence,” writes Silver.
Clinton’s falling numbers in New Hampshire are indicative of a national polling trend, which shows Trump rapidly making up ground in the run up to Election Day. A new McClatchy-Marist poll shows that 44 percent of likely voters support former secretary of state while 43 percent support the real estate mogul. The most recent Washington Post tracking the poll had Trump within one point of Clinton (48 percent to 47 percent), an incredible change since Clinton held a 12 point advantage just one week ago. A Fox News poll of likely voters from last week showed that in a four way race, Trump lags Clinton by a mere two percent, a three point decline since mid-October. And finally, the Investor’s Business Daily poll, shows that Trump has actually moved into the lead over Clinton, 44 percent to 43 percent, with just two days before Election Day.
“The race is in a different place than 8 or 9 days ago when there was virtually no path for Trump,” Charlie Cook, the publisher of the Cook Political report told The Hill. “So yes, like everyone else, we’ve revised our assessment.”
It’s been a long slog, plagued by scandals, full of twists and turns, and bereft of much talk about policy, but here we are just days from Election Day and the outcome of the race is still anyone’s guess. And the stake’s of this election couldn’t be higher.
“Our movement is about replacing the failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people,” Trump argues in his closing statement. “The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake for those that control the levers of power in Washington and for the global especial interests they partner with; these people who don’t have your interests in mind.”
So when you pull the lever or press the button to submit your vote, don’t breathe a sigh of relief that this crazy political season is over, be excited that change could finally be coming.