US Presidential Election Too Close to Call in Final Week

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: Reuters

By Glynn Wilson –

With only four days to go until voting commences in the 2016 presidential election, surveys show the contest for the White House is too close to call, with Democrat Hillary Clinton barely leading nationally with 45 percent of support compared to Republican Donald Trump’s 42 percent, well within the 3 percentage point margin of error, making the race a virtual dead heat.

With an election this close, it could make for a long night on November 8.

The most recent Reuters poll shows the race for the Oval Office tightening significantly in the past week, even in some swing states where Democrat Hillary Clinton was ahead and Republican Donald Trump must win to become the next president of the United States.

In the key battleground states of Florida and North Carolina, the two major party presidential candidates are now locked in a tie.

In the wake of more recent news from the FBI about more emails being found and investigated, Clinton’s lead in Michigan has narrowed to the point where the state is too close to call. In addition, Ohio remains a dead heat even though Pennsylvania is still tilting to Clinton.

“While Clinton remains the odds-on favorite to win Tuesday’s election, Trump now has a plausible route to victory, especially if there is a sharp fall in turnout among African-Americans from the levels of the 2012 election,” Reuters reports. “Still, Trump must win both Florida and North Carolina to have a good chance of winning the White House.”

Clinton’s odds of winning the needed 270 Electoral College votes are still pretty good, according to Reuters, although her chances fell by 5 percentage points just in the past week. Clinton could have had 256 solid electoral votes and an estimated final tally of about 302 votes, to 236 for Trump, according to Reuters. Last week, she had 278 solid votes and a final tally of 320 votes, to 218 for Trump.

“By any measure, however, Trump has had a good run in the past week. He has seen his support grow in 24 states while losing ground in 11,” Reuters reports. “Conversely, Clinton’s support grew in 13 states while shrinking in 22. Trump’s gains came in a period in which he had few new controversies to fend off, while Clinton faced renewed scrutiny of her email practices.”

According to a compilation of surveys at the website Real Clear Politics, Clinton only leads by 3 percentage points as well, 49 percent to 46 percent, according to the ABC/Washington Post poll.

By way of contrast, the LA Times/USC Tracking survey showed Trump leading 47 percent to Clinton’s 43 percent of the national popular vote. President Barack Obama won the 2008 election with 57 percent of the popular vote.

Rasmussen Reports has the race in a tie with Clinton and Trump both at 44 percent.

“Most respondents to the latest survey were asked about their support for the candidates after FBI Director James Comey announced last Friday the agency was examining newly discovered emails that might pertain to Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state,” Reuters reports. “Comey had concluded in July at the end of a year-long FBI probe of the email issue that there were no grounds to bring any charges against Clinton. His brief letter to Congress last week said the new trove of emails might or might not be significant.”

Trump and other Republicans seized on the news to question Clinton’s credibility, while Democrats complained it could unfairly influence voters so close to the election.

“It is unclear if the FBI inquiry upset the balance in the race. But many national polls have found the race tightening in recent days,” Reuters reports. “Polling averages last week showed Clinton with a lead of between 4 and 7 points. Those averages now show her lead at just 2 to 3 points. Last week, the project had her leading 47 percent to 40 percent. This week, it dropped to 45 percent to 42 percent.”

There are other reasons for the Clinton campaign to worry, according to Reuters. Among voters who have cast early ballots, she leads Trump by about 8 points. At the same point in the 2012 race, President Barack Obama had a lead of 11 points among early voters over Republican rival Mitt Romney.

In Florida, where the candidates are tied at 47 percent, Clinton leads by 8 points among early voters. In 2012, Obama led by about 15 points.

In Ohio, where the race also is tied, she leads by about 20 points among early voters. At this point in 2012, Obama led by about 30 points.

“It is not clear why Clinton’s early voting support has fallen short of Obama’s,” Reuters reports. “The shift could indicate a broader cross-section of voters is casting early ballots than in 2012. But the drop might also foreshadow lower-than-expected turnout among the core Democratic constituencies who propelled Obama to victory in 2008 and 2012.”

Clinton’s success is built on holding together those blocs of voters, of course, but she does not garner the same level of support among African-Americans as Mr. Obama did, the first black president in U.S. political history.

“Diminished support among blacks, coupled with a large drop in black turnout, would hurt the Democrat,” Reuters concludes. “If black Democratic turnout drops by 15 points nationally, for example, Clinton’s odds of winning drop to about 72 percent, by a projected margin of just 32 Electoral College votes. A drop of 20 points would reduce the odds of a Clinton victory to little more than a coin toss.”

Even a 10-point drop in black Democratic turnout coupled with a 5-point increase among white Republicans could flip the race to Trump.

“The good news for Clinton is that about 60 percent of likely Hispanic voters are supporting her, similar to the numbers Obama enjoyed in 2012. A 10-point increase in Hispanic turnout would go a long way toward offsetting a 10-point decrease in black turnout,” Reuters reports.

But the final week outlook is not all gloom for Clinton.

“She has made the race close in Arizona, a longtime Republican stronghold,” Reuters concludes. “She has also regained the lead in Pennsylvania and is leading in Nevada.”

In any event, this election is too close to call, and with a contest this close, there could be glitches and challenges and recounts and lawsuits, dragging out the final results like the election of 2000 between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush.

© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.