Thursday 18 January 2018

Both sides embark on frenzied late blitz of battleground states

Donald Trump fans at a rally in Sarasota, Florida yesterday Photo: Getty
Donald Trump fans at a rally in Sarasota, Florida yesterday Photo: Getty

Ruth Sherlock, David Lawler and Nick Allen

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, yesterday (Monday) hoped to exploit the same anti-establishment anger that led to the Brexit vote, as he made a last-ditch appeal to working class Americans.

In the final hours of one of the most tumultuous White House election campaigns in memory, Mr Trump depicted a country divided in which he was the "last chance" for radical change. "It's gonna be Brexit plus plus plus!" he shouted to his supporters.

With polls showing his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton edging ahead, Mr Trump embarked on a mad dash across America, holding six rallies in five states.

"I want the entire corrupt Washington establishment to hear the words we are all about to say: when we win tomorrow, we are going to drain the swamp," he told cheering supporters at his first event in Sarasota, Florida, before heading to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

"Our failed political establishment has delivered nothing but poverty at home and disaster overseas. They get rich making America poor. It's time to reject a media and political elite that's bled our country dry," he said.

With Hispanics and other minority communities helping Mrs Clinton solidify her grasp on traditional swing states such as Nevada and Colorado, Mr Trump's clearest path to victory runs though toss-ups like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio as well as at least one Democrat-leaning state, probably in the Midwest.

Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton and President Barack Obama all focused their campaigning efforts yesterday in Michigan, which has been a Democrat-leaning state since 1992. Even Mitt Romney's status as a native son did not protect him from losing the state to Mr Obama in 2012. Mr Trump hopes that his white working class appeal, fortified by his protectionist message on trade, will erode Mrs Clinton's five-point lead in this industrial state.

Robby Mook, Mrs Clinton's everoptimistic campaign manager, conceded that the race in Michigan had "tightened" considerably.

"In his 70 years on earth The Donald has never cared about working folk. He doesn't care about working people," Mr Obama said in Michigan, attempting to counter the Republican's message.

He added: "If your closest advisers don't trust you to tweet how can we trust you with the nuclear codes?", referring to reports that Mr Trump's campaign had "finally wrested away" control of his Twitter account, something denied by his campaign manager.

As she boarded her campaign plane in White Plains, New York, for the day's first rally in Pennsylvania, Mrs Clinton acknowledged the deep divisions in the country. "I really do want to be the president for everybody - people who vote for me, people who vote against me," she told reporters.

She aimed to nail down a narrow lead with stops in three battleground states, before joining the Obamas at a star-studded finale in Philadelphia.

Both CNN's poll of polls and the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll had Mrs Clinton four percentage points ahead yesterday. A RealClearPolitics average of polls had it closer at 2.6 points. The election monitoring website FiveThirtyEight, named after the total number of the electoral college votes, estimated she would take 295 votes, putting her well over the 270 margin for victory.

But analysts warned that Mr Trump's chances of staging an upset might well be higher than the data suggested. Both campaigns were predicting that a win in Florida could come down to as little as one per cent of the vote.

Moreover, some 13pc of Americans, even at this late stage, are uncertain of how to vote or have decided to choose a third party candidate.

In 2012 this figure was only three per cent. Analysts also estimate that there are some 100 million voting age Americans who tend not to vote in the electoral process, and that many of those are white working class. How Mr Trump performs will depend on how this untested demographic turn out to vote.

Irish Independent

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