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National polls in the U.S. show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a narrow edge over Republican Donald Trump in the last week of the presidential campaign, but the reopened investigation into Clinton’s emails from her tenure as secretary of state has added an uncertain element to their last dash for the White House.
Several national surveys Monday showed Clinton with a 1-to-3 percentage point advantage over Trump, the brash real estate mogul making his first run for elected office, and with the two candidates locked in tight races in several highly contested states that will decide the outcome and make one of them the country’s 45th president. Other surveys still show Clinton with a more likely path to victory, which would make her the country’s first female president.
The long campaign, already filled with numerous twists and turns that have left both candidates with unfavorable ratings among voters, was jarred again when Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey announced the new email probe, to look at thousands of emails found on the computer of the estranged husband of a key Clinton aide, Huma Abedin.
Investigators secured a search warrant and are now trying to determine whether they are related to Clinton’s handling of national security material in her emails while she was the country’s top diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
Comey had previously closed an investigation into Clinton’s handling of the classified material in July, declaring that she was “extremely careless” in dealing with the documents but that no criminal charges were warranted. For her part, Clinton has said on numerous occasions that her use of a private, unsecured email server based in her New York home was a mistake, but that she did not knowingly send or receive classified material through the numerous electronic devices she used.
Polls have shown little immediate impact from Comey’s renewed investigation, which Democrats have attacked as a politically motivated and an uncalled-for, last-minute intrusion into the November 8 election that violated the FBI’s long-standing tradition of avoiding any actions that might sway a political contest.
Meanwhile, Trump is trying to capitalize on the renewed look at Clinton’s emails, which have cast a cloud over her candidacy from the start more than a year ago.
“Hillary Clinton is not the victim,” Trump told a rally late Sunday in the southwestern state of New Mexico, where Clinton holds a solid lead. “You, the American people, are the victims of this corrupt system. When we win on November 8, we are going to Washington, D.C., and we are going drain the swamp.”
With polls showing that Clinton is leading in states that Democratic presidential candidates have traditionally carried, Trump is attempting in the last days of the campaign to flip several of these states to give him a better path to the White House.
U.S. presidents are not elected by the national popular vote, but rather by contests in each of the country’s 50 states and the capital city of Washington, with the most populous states carrying the most weight in determining the overall outcome.
Aside from visiting New Mexico, Trump is headed Monday to Michigan and to nearby Wisconsin on Tuesday, both Midwestern states where polls have long shown Clinton ahead and poised to win their electoral votes. Both Clinton and Trump are searching for the majority of 270 or more of the 538 votes in the Electoral College, based on the state-by-state outcomes, to claim the presidency.
Clinton is in Ohio, another Midwestern state, on Monday. Polls there show Trump with a slight edge and no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning the state, where there are both large industrial centers and vast farmlands.
Several polling analysts say Clinton is close already to securing the 270 electoral votes or even above that majority figure. But polls are close enough in several closely contested states to give Trump hope of yet pulling ahead of her.
One of the closest of the battleground states is Florida, in the southeastern part of the country. Both Trump, who has an oceanfront mansion as a second home in the state, and Clinton have held numerous rallies in Florida, hoping to gain a last-minute edge in a state with 29 electoral votes. She campaigned Sunday in Florida, and she is making three more stops there on Tuesday.
FBI investigators knew weeks ago that emails found in a separate investigation into allegations that Abedin’s husband, disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, had sent a sexually suggestive email to an underage girl may be related to the Clinton email case. But Comey only sent a letter to congressional leaders on Friday, 11 days ahead of the election, informing them of the development. Comey said in his notification to Congress that investigators didn’t know if the discovery was significant, since the material had not yet been reviewed.
Numerous Democrats have attacked Comey for divulging the existence of the renewed probe so close to the election. Clinton said Saturday, “It’s pretty strange to put something like that out, with such little information, right before an election.”
But she did not mention it Sunday at her campaign appearances.