Polarised US heads to decision day with Clinton showing slim lead after nasty campaign
By Arul Louis
A polarised US heads to the polls on Tuesday after a bruising, nasty campaign that leaves Democrat Hillary Clinton with a slim lead over her Republican rival Donald Trump after she received a reprieve from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over investigations into her email server use.
The nation held its breath Monday as individual polls have a spread ranging a from a 4 percent lead for Clinton in major ones like those by CBS, Fox and Washington Post to a 5 percent lead for Trump in the Los Angeles Times poll.
On the last day of the campaign of personal invective, the two candidates and their supporters criss-crossed the country on Monday, taking aim at the “Battleground States,” those where neither party had a solid lead, the control of the Congress — now in the hands of the Republicans – is also at stake and the outcome could impact the next presidency.
An Indian-American woman, Kamala Harris, the Democratic Attorney General of California, is set to be elected to the Senate with polls showing her having a commanding lead. At least two Indian American Democrats are expected to win first-time elections to the House of Representatives.
Indian American Democrats and Republicans intensified their campaigns over the weekend appealing to the community to vote for their party leaders.
The Republicans concentrated on Hindus, while the Democrats took a broader approach taking in all South Asians, especially in the battleground states.
FBI Director James Comey sent Congress a letter on Sunday clarifying that a search of the emails on the electronic devices of Mark Weiner, the husband of Clinton’s close aide Huma Abedin, did not find anything incriminating and there was no need for further investigations.
This lifted a cloud that had settled on Clinton when Comey announced late last month that the agency would again investigate her because of the emails found in Weiner’s computer after it had closed the investigation in July. Weiner was under investigation for sending obscene texts to a minor.
The issue was whether Clinton compromised national security by using her personal email server for confidential emails while she was the Secretary of State.
While welcoming the new statement from Comey, Democrats condemned him for what they saw as an attempt to interfere in the elections by resurrecting the emails issue so close to the election.
Trump, meanwhile, criticised Comey for his retreat, saying that it was politically motivated.
The US presidential elections are legally indirect elections determined by the 538-member electoral college and in fact people vote for its members who are committed to presidential candidates. A majority of 270 is needed in the electoral college, where the election is by states.
Theoretically a candidate can get a majority of the popular votes, but still lose without a majority of the electors.
Real Clear Politics found that neither has a majority while Clinton was ahead with 203 seats to Trump’s 163.
The remaining undetermined 172 seats are mostly in the 11 battleground states, where the campaigns have been concentrating their firepower as these states will ultimately determine the outcome of the election.
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and various Democratic party leaders were rushing to campaign in these states Monday.
Clinton is to campaign in Michigan, while Trump is to swing through Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
In the final days of the campaign issues have gone by the wayside and the two contenders to lead the most powerful country in the world have focused on personal attacks against each other.
Clinton has questioned whether Trump can be trusted with the nuclear button, on his temperament and his attitudes to Muslims, Latino immigrants and women, whom he has admitted to molesting.
Trump’s attacks have focused on Clinton’s judgement, alleged corruption, trigger-happy readiness to plunge into foreign conflicts and what he says is a disregard for national security.