Shock poll puts Trump ahead

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON: An ex­plo­sive new poll showed Don­ald Trump lead­ing the race for the White House yes­ter­day, amid an avalanche of rev­e­la­tions and al­le­ga­tions a week be­fore Elec­tion Day. An ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post track­ing poll showed the Repub­li­can lead­ing his ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton 46-45 per­cent, with news of a re­newed FBI probe ap­par­ently de­vour­ing the Demo­crat’s long-held lead. Ex­perts cau­tion not to put too much stock in any one poll, es­pe­cially one well within the sta­tis­ti­cal mar­gin of er­ror.

Clin­ton is still the over­whelm­ing fa­vorite, thanks to the quirks of the US elec­toral sys­tem, which tal­lies the win­ner based on weighted state-by-state races. The New York Times’ sta­tis­ti­cal model gives Clin­ton an 88 per­cent chance of win­ning, while re­spected web­site Five-Thirty-Eight says 74 per­cent. But the shock ABC poll caps a series of sur­veys that point to a race which is nar­row­ing in the fi­nal sprint.

The idea that the 70-year-old Trump is still in with a chance will sur­prise many and prompt jit­ters among Democrats and the fi­nan­cial mar­kets. The bom­bas­tic re­al­ity TV star has been pum­meled by al­le­ga­tions that he groped sev­eral women and has shady ties to Mos­cow. A week ago pun­dits were rush­ing to de­clare the elec­tion over. Now, voices on Wall Street are warn­ing that mar­kets have not taken the prospect of a Trump pres­i­dency se­ri­ously enough.

“A Trump win could lead to a 11-13 per­cent sell-off,” on the S&P 500 share in­dex, an­a­lysts at Bar­clays warned clients yes­ter­day. That would be a big­ger crash than the day Lehman Broth­ers went bust in Sept 2008, the nadir of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis. Si­mon John­son, for­mer chief econ­o­mist of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, warned such a shock “would cause the stock mar­ket to crash and plunge the world into re­ces­sion”.

The tu­mul­tuous two-year race - fea­tur­ing sug­ges­tions of sex­ual as­sault, Rus­sian es­pi­onage and fi­nan­cial wheeler-deal­ing - may have few twists and turns left in store. On Mon­day Trump was hit by fresh al­le­ga­tions, re­vealed in The New York Times, that he not only dodged pay­ing in­come tax, but did so in a legally du­bi­ous way.

Clin­ton and Trump spent yes­ter­day barn­storm­ing bat­tle­ground states. Trump - some­what out of char­ac­ter - went to the oddly named town of King of Prussia in Penn­syl­va­nia to de­liver a pol­icy speech on health­care. “Our tax plan will pro­vide a 35 per­cent tax cut to mid­dle class fam­i­lies with two kids,” he told sup­port­ers. “Our mid­dle class has not been prop­erly re­spected. That I can tell you.” Crit­ics ques­tion how Trump would pay for his pro­posed cuts.

Mean­while the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee tried to steer at­ten­tion away from her han­dling of US se­crets and on to Trump’s treat­ment of women. The 69-year-old Clin­ton’s level of sup­port among women, who make up the ma­jor­ity bloc of vot­ers, is as likely as any­thing else to de­cide who wins the elec­tion. Her cam­paign spent days be­rat­ing FBI di­rec­tor James Comey for re­veal­ing that the bureau is look­ing anew at her use of a pri­vate email server while sec­re­tary of state.

Clin­ton and her sup­port­ers were fu­ri­ous that Comey made his an­nounce­ment with­out pro­vid­ing any new ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing but, af­ter three days of rage, Clin­ton took a more emol­lient tone Mon­day. “I made a mis­take. I’m not mak­ing any ex­cuses,” she said, invit­ing the FBI to pur­sue its probe and sug­gest­ing that the agency would find, as it did in July, that she has no case to an­swer. “It wasn’t even a close call,” she said. “I think most peo­ple have moved on. They’re look­ing and fo­cused on ‘OK, who is go­ing to be the next pres­i­dent and the com­man­der-in-chief?’” With no sign any­thing con­crete will come of the FBI probe be­fore polling day, Clin­ton be­lieves she can face down the chal­lenge and re­turn to the is­sue of Trump’s fit­ness to lead. — AFP


KING OF PRUSSIA, Penn­syl­va­nia: Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump gives a thumbs up to a re­porter while stop­ping for snacks at a Wawa gas sta­tion yes­ter­day.

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