It’s fitting that one of the most contentious presidential campaigns in American history is going out on a negative note. How else could the 2016 election end?
Donald Trump has based his presidential campaign on taking an antagonistic tone, so that part isn’t a surprise. But as the polls tightened in the waning days — the RealClearPolitics average has Trump trailing by only 1.7 percentage points — Hillary Clinton has increasingly mimicked Trump’s take-no-prisoners style.
Clinton and her supporters, including President Barack Obama, have been hitting Trump hard on his past comments about women, tying supportive statements by the Ku Klux Klan around his neck and calling him unfit to be president.
Trump, meanwhile, has used that same loaded word — unfit — while unleashing a tough ad in the campaign’s closing days spotlighting the FBI’s announcement of more emails apparently related to Clinton’s private server. The ad refers to the “pervert Anthony Weiner” and claims Clinton is under criminal investigation (which several media organizations have fact-checked as incorrect).
RealClearPolitics’ Alexis Simendinger and Caitlin Huey-Burns wrote about this rash of negativity, noting the past few days “helped guarantee that America’s most venomous and lurid presidential election in modern history will slither to the finish line.”
The effect on voters remains to be seen. NBC News reported that 36 million Americans have taken advantage of early voting, which is more than in previous elections. About 30 million voted early in 2012.
Despite the high turnout, voters are not happy with the tone of the campaign. The latest CBS News/New York Times poll found that 82% said the Nov. 8 election has left them disgusted. Only 13% of Americans said they were excited about the campaign.
And both candidates continue to have record high unfavorable ratings — something unseen in the history of presidential polling. Usually candidates hover around a -1% or a +1% in favorability — basically a wash. But Clinton’s unfavorable rating is at 12.6% in the RCP average while Trump’s average is at 18.3%. The candidates, meanwhile, are campaigning hard in the final days.
New Hampshire has become a surprisingly hot state in play. It only has four electoral votes, but that small number could pack a mighty punch on election night. Trump is leading by 1.7 points in the RealClearPolitics average of the state.
RealClearPolitics’ Rebecca Berg and Huey-Burns look at how the GOP nominee is counting on the state to put him back on track for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
Trump will end his campaign the night of Nov. 7 in Manchester, New Hampshire, the site of the first-in-the-nation primary — and the place where he served notice on the political establishment that 2016 would be a year like no other. So it’s come full circle for the business mogul. His primary win there in February was the first of his campaign and, in hindsight, put him on the path to the nomination. Leading up to his rally, daughter Ivanka Trump will campaign for him there Nov. 6.
Hillary Clinton will be in the small state Nov. 6, and Obama will campaign for her there Nov. 7.
Other hotly contested states include North Carolina, where Trump leads by less than 1 point in the RCP average. Obama campaigned for Clinton there Nov. 4, and Chelsea Clinton will do likewise Nov. 6. Trump was in North Carolina on Nov. 5 and will be there Nov. 7. His son, Eric, was there Nov. 5.
Pennsylvania is also tightening, a development that worries Democrats. It has 20 electoral votes, which ties it with Illinois as the fifth-largest state in the United States, and no Republican has carried it since 1988. Clinton leads in the RCP average there by 3 points, but she had been leading by almost 10. She will close out her campaign in Philadelphia, where she accepted the Democratic nomination, with a rally the night of Nov. 7 (she’ll be joined by Obama, Michelle Obama, and husband Bill Clinton). Before that she joined pop singer Katy Perry for a get-out-the-vote concert in Philly on Nov. 5, plus she has Vice President Joe Biden, a native son of Pennsylvania, zig-zagging across the state for three days. Trump campaigned there Nov. 4 and Melania Trump made a rare campaign appearance in the Keystone State on Nov. 3. Ivanka Trump will make a stop there Nov. 6.
Finally, it could all come down to Florida, home of the infamous hanging chads that dogged the 2000 presidential election. Clinton and Trump have taken turns leading in the RealClearPolitics average of the Sunshine State. Clinton is currently up by 1.2 points.
Clinton was there Nov. 5, as was running mate Tim Kaine. Rock star Jon Bon Jovi held a get-out-the-vote concert for her on Nov. 5 (and performs in North Carolina on Nov. 6), and Obama will be in Florida campaigning for her also. Trump was there Nov. 5, and his running mate, Mike Pence, was there Nov. 4. Donald Trump Jr. campaigned for his dad there Nov. 5.
Clinton and Trump will both spend Election Day in New York, voting at their respective polling stations and holding events with supporters that evening.