World on edge over US election

MAKING FRIENDS: Republican nominee Donald Trump holds babies at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs Pictures: REUTERS
MAKING FRIENDS: Republican nominee Donald Trump holds babies at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs
Pictures: REUTERS

Clinton holds narrow lead – but Trump still in with a chance, latest poll shows

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton packed their schedules with last-minute events yesterday, two days out from an election that has gripped the world.

Clinton is banking on star power to lock in her narrow poll lead, hosting back-to-back weekend pop concerts with Beyonce and Katy Perry and booking a date with President Barack Obama.

For his part, Trump has embarked on a cross-country odyssey through Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire.

The latest major survey, an ABC/Washington Post tracker released early yesterday, gave Clinton a five percentage-point 48-43 lead. But polling averages are closer.

The final 48-hour programmes of both campaigns suggest that the race is closer than either side admits.

In the latest sign of the mounting tension and ugly mood, Trump was hustled off stage in Reno, Nevada, on Saturday in a false gun scare.

Trump was unruffled, although his son retweeted a message implying it was an “assassination attempt”.

The Secret Service said that agents found no weapon.

The incident happened when a protester trying to hold up a “Republicans against Trump” sign was wrestled to the ground and attacked by Trump supporters.

The man, who said he was a Republican, was briefly detained then released.

Clinton’s camp mocked the 70-year-old tycoon’s scattershot approach to the electoral map as a sign of panic.

But the 69-year-old former secretary of state herself added an extra planned stopover in Michigan, a state that fellow Democrat Obama won easily in 2012.

At his campaign stops the billionaire Republican remained triumphalist.

“In three days we are going to win the great state of Colorado and we are going to win back the White House,” Trump promised in Denver, Colorado.

“You’re going to be so happy. We’re going to start winning again,” he said, urging voters to cast ballots in person to avoid the risk of fraud in postal voting.

Trump hit his key themes: promises to tear up free trade agreements, expel undocumented migrants, rebuild an allegedly depleted US military and purge corruption.

And his fans roared back the same three-word chants: “Build the wall!” “Drain the swamp!” “Lock her up!”

Clinton’s late decision to head to Michigan with Obama later today and to add a midnight rally in North Carolina as election day begins raised eyebrows.

Campaign manager Robby Mook dismissed suggestions that Clinton was trying to shore up her crumbling northern firewall.

“Donald Trump has to win all of these battleground races,” he said.

“If we win Pennsylvania and Florida, he just has no path.”

Outside of the US, Washington’s allies fear that a candidate who threatens to review US treaty alliances is within striking distance of the White House.

There was scorn in Britain, where Trump effigies were burned instead of local hate figures on the traditional November 5 Bonfire Night.

And in Germany, leading news weekly Der Spiegel on its front page depicted both candidates covered in the mud of a dirty campaign.

“When I look at Washington, I am worried,” German President Joachim Gauck told the magazine, citing Trump’s “unpredictability”.

US foes like Russia and Iran have not hidden their mirth at the turmoil rocking US democracy.

Global markets fear that a protectionist, inexperienced demagogue could plunge the US or even the world economy back into recession. The polls are unclear. Clinton still enjoys a narrow nationwide advantage, a 2.1 percentage-point lead, according to a poll average by tracker RealClearPolitics.

But the election will be won or lost in the US electoral college, and perhaps a dozen states are in play.

Trump’s camp believes it can pick off enough of them tomorrow.

His campaign has been torpedoed and holed but not yet sunk by allegations of sexual assault and the candidate’s own off-colour outbursts.

Meanwhile, the long-running saga of Clinton’s inappropriate use of a private e-mail server – fed by announcements and leaks from FBI investigators – continues to taint her pitch as the competent professional.

As the race nears the end, Clinton is trying to crack the pessimism with an upbeat message, bringing in heavyweight support from Obama and megastars like Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z.

“We are seeing tremendous momentum, large numbers of people turning out, breaking records in a lot of places,” Clinton declared at a rained-out rally in Florida.

She was referring to the early and mail voting permitted in several US states.

Polling and anecdotal evidence suggests that Clinton supporters, especially previously underrepresented Latino voters, have come out strongly in several states, including Nevada and Florida.

But Trump gets big and enthusiastic crowds at his rallies.

“And you know what? I don’t need Beyonce and I don’t need Jay-Z,” he boasts.

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