The ins and outs of the US election trail
It’s the final, drama filled stretch in the US election campaign and I’ve joined it.
I flew into Florida Monday (late Sunday evening US time) and the landscape had changed, even on the flight over.
My plan was to focus on Florida as a key battle ground state but the shock waves from the FBI director, James Comey, reopening the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails has thrown everything up into the air.
Republican candidate Donald Trump is now making a barnstorming run through states where he can sniff a wind change, including Michigan and Wisconsin.
In New York meanwhile the city went from basking in unseasonably warm weather to a massive weather bomb which seemed to suit the political mood perfectly.
One thing is clear after just a few hours on the ground, Americans are torn over this election. Those who were voting for Clinton as the better of two evils are having to reassess their views again.
As a glum border control officer confessed at Houston, ‘‘there’s good and bad in both of them’’.
He still hadn’t made up his mind.
‘‘Maybe I’ll be moving to New Zealand,’’ he told me.
So what are the polls doing? Most agree it’s too soon to know if Clinton has taken a hit.
But there’s this report in US News. ‘‘A Washington POST-ABC poll found that the FBI move hasn’t changed the opinion of 60 per cent of likely voters regarding who they will support. But about 30 per cent say it makes them less likely to back Clinton.’’
Polling guru Nate Silver has made this assessment.
Trump is pumped by the FBI probe and even suggesting they cancel the election and hand it to him.
The Chicago Tribune seems to have a similar take, calling on Democrats to oust Clinton.
Trump is trailing in the popular vote, but the bigger hurdle is that he is trailing in a number of the key swing states that he must win to take the election.
But I think there’s an equally big story in this small piece that ran in USA Today this morning.
Dana Perino, a former White House press secretary for President George W Bush, is a lifelong Republican and aide to Republican office holders but she’s not voting for Donald Trump on election day.
Perino sums up Trump’s ‘‘woman problem’’ - Perino tells USA Today she feels adrift from the Republican Party
‘‘You sort of feel like, ‘I don’t know if I belong anymore.’’
Perino is not alone. Polls show Trump trails among college educated women, and Republican women including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have come out strongly against Trump.
Some may vote for Clinton, but others - like Perino - just won’t vote, especially after the latest email scandal.
So what’s the likely impact on the campaign?
It will turn nastier, uglier and even more personal.
There are claims that the FBI are sitting on explosive claims tying Trump to Russia.
Clinton’s campaign ads are now focused on striking fear into the hearts of those who believe Trump may unleash nuclear weapons. Coincidence? Probably not. The latest advertisements feature a 1964 ad of a little girl counting petals on a daisy before it turns into a nuclear missile countdown.
The Clinton camp have even dug up the little girl (now a woman) who starred in that ad.
Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton.