Speed Reads

Poll Watch

One poll already suggests some damage to Clinton from FBI email inquiry

The only official information the public has about the FBI's new involvement with the case of Hillary Clinton's private email server is the letter FBI Director James Comey sent to Congress on Friday, saying the FBI had discovered "emails that appear to be pertinent" and would take "appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information." There has also been a lot of speculation, finger-wagging, and briefings to the media from unidentified — and apparently feuding — factions in the FBI and Justice Department.

The two big questions are whether the emails — reportedly found on a laptop owned by Clinton aide Huma Abedin's estranged husband, Anthony Weiner — will reveal classified information or anything that suggests Clinton tried to impede the FBI investigation, and how it will affect the 2016 election. An ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll conducted after Comey's bombshell suggests it might hurt Clinton, with Donald Trump narrowing his deficits to just 1 point in a four-person race, from 2 points previously; almost all of the gain comes from Republicans and GOP-leaning independents coming home to Trump. But the pollsters also asked about the FBI's review of Clinton's emails:

A sizable majority, 63 percent, said this would make no difference to how they voted, but 34 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for Clinton. Most of those people, 68 percent, are Republican and GOP-leaning independents, but 17 percent are Democrats or Democratic-leaners, and another 9 percent say they don't lean toward either party. That's not good news for Clinton. More than 20 million people have already voted, and it's not clear if other polls will mirror this response — weekend polls tend to be less reliable, and the ABC News-Washington Post poll shows a tighter race than other national polls. Plus, the history of "October surprises" is mixed, electorally.

But even if Clinton can maintain her lead, "the email news could matter most in down-ballot races," The New York Times notes. "After being on the defensive for weeks because of Mr. Trump's behavior, Republican candidates now have a more helpful news media environment in which to make their closing arguments. And Republican voters who are otherwise demoralized may have been given one final nudge to show up to the polls."