Clinton and Trump neck and neck at the finish line
The presidential race tightened dramatically as the contest entered its final days, with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump barnstorming through key battleground states this week in a last-ditch effort to drum up critical votes. Clinton had opened up a comfortable lead, but her campaign was shaken by FBI Director James Comey’s decision to inform Congress that the bureau had found emails that could be relevant to its investigation of her private email server. In the following days, Clinton’s edge over Trump in the RealClearPolitics.com national poll dipped to less than 2 percentage points (47 percent to 45.3 percent for Trump), while her projected Electoral College lead shrank from 333–205 to 273–265, with 270 needed to win the White House. The former secretary of state hit the trail in swing states such as Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida, where she again questioned Trump’s fitness for the presidency. “He sure has spent a lot of time demeaning, degrading, and assaulting women,” Clinton told voters in Miami. Trump campaigned in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New Mexico, telling a cheering Albuquerque crowd that as president he would “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C.
With less than a week until Election Day, more than 20 million Americans had already voted, by absentee ballot and in 34 states that allow in-person early voting. The numbers in battleground states show mixed results, with more registered Democrats voting in Nevada and North Carolina, but Republicans having the advantage in Iowa and Ohio.
What the editorials said
The race is “closer than it should be,” said the Los Angeles Times. There’s no doubt Comey’s “vague, yet politically charged” October surprise has hurt Clinton’s poll numbers. But even if voters have doubts about her handling of official emails, they can’t justify voting for Trump. “There is no comparison between Clinton’s carelessness in corresponding with colleagues” and the fact that her opponent is manifestly unfit for the most powerful office on Earth.
The Comey revelations make “an eloquent argument against the folly of early voting,” said The Washington Times. For the sake of voter convenience, states have turned Election Day into “an Election Season.” Numerous scandals and stories have broken in recent weeks that might have swayed a voter’s choice for president, “but those who cast their ballots in September and October missed that chance.”
What the columnists said
“Hey, Trump could win!” said James Taranto in The Wall Street Journal. Intentionally or not, Comey prompted voters who aren’t Clinton partisans “to focus on her corruption and the sheer weirdness that surrounds her, making Trump look good by comparison.” Now his revitalized campaign exudes new confidence. That’s not to say Trump doesn’t have a steep hill to climb—“the polls are still close, and the Democratic turnout operation could make the difference.”
Actually, turnout may be Clinton’s Achilles’ heel, said Alex Shephard in NewRepublic.com. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll showed the share of Clinton supporters who were “very enthusiastic” about her candidacy nose-diving from 51 percent to 43 percent following Comey’s letter. That malaise affects not only voters but also volunteers “manning phone banks, knocking on doors, and driving people to the polls.” In critical North Carolina, black voters aren’t turning out in the numbers they did for Obama—at least in the early vote, said Jamelle Bouie in Slate.com. For that, Democrats can thank “the relentless push by Republicans to restrict and limit voting” in largely black neighborhoods.
“Early voting is a poor predictor,” said Sean Trende in RealClear Politics.com. We’re not getting actual results, just the total number of votes cast and voters’ party identification. Early voting tends to skew Democratic because of the party’s emphasis on it, “but we can’t know how independents are voting,” which is crucial. And while national polls may be tightening, Trump’s path to victory in the Electoral College remains, “well, problematic,” said Ed Kilgore in NYMag.com. Even if he takes every state won by Mitt Romney in 2012, and four won by Obama—Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, and Florida—Trump will still have to pick off a blue state such as Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, or “he’s stuck just short of 270.”
It wasn’t all bad
■Heather Krueger and Chris Dempsey are a perfect match. Krueger had just turned 25 when she was diagnosed with liver disease in March 2014 and told she had months to live. Dempsey, who works in local government in Frankfort, Ill., heard about her story from a co-worker, Krueger’s cousin, and decided to donate half of his liver if he was a match. He was, and while recovering after surgery, the pair fell in love. Last month, they married. “Because of you,” Krueger told Dempsey in her wedding vows, “I laugh, smile, and I dare to dream again.”
■Most bachelor parties end with foggy memories, but Mitchel Craddock will never forget his celebration. Craddock and his friends were staying at a rented cabin in the Tennessee woods when a hungry dog appeared at their door. The group fed the dog and then followed her into the woods, where they found her eight newborn pups. The men got right to work: bathing the puppies and spending their beer fund on kibble. Each groomsman went home with a pup, and Craddock’s fiancée was delighted to meet her new pet. “Now it’s our joke that for any of our big life events,” Craddock said, “we’ll get a dog.”
■In 1945, Jim Schlegel scored a last-minute ticket to see the Chicago Cubs play in the World Series at Wrigley Field. Seventy-one years later, the Cubs are finally back in the World Series, and Schlegel, 97, is again in the crowd—this time thanks to the generosity of a stranger. The World War II veteran’s family had set up an online fundraiser to raise the $10,000 needed to buy tickets for a game at Wrigley Field. Fellow Chicagoan and CNBC host Marcus Lemonis heard about the appeal, and donated his two front-row seats to the nonagenarian. “I appreciate your generosity,” said Schlegel, “and hope we bring in a winner.”