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7 November 2016

The US Presidential election is as tense as a movie – but there could be another twist yet

The target of Donald Trump's hatred may bring about his downfall. 

By Julia Rampen

According to the screenwriter, Blake Snyder, to create a compelling plot you twist, and twist again. By such logic, this is the Hollywood blockbuster of US Presidential elections.

With days to the election, the FBI director James Comey announced his agency was reopening the investigation into the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email practices. Suddenly, her lead over Republican nominee and hamster impersonator Donald Trump looked more shaky. Democrats accused Comey of being in league with the Republicans. Twist.

Then, on the eve of the final day of campaigning, Comey stepped in again and exonerated her. Now it is Trump’s campaign crying foul. Trump ramped up his anti-establishment rhetoric and complained Clinton was being protected by a “totally rigged system”. Another twist. 

While this might make for a dramatic finale, analysis by FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver suggests that although the revelation of more emails did hurt Clinton’s chances a little, her lead over Trump had stabilised even before Comey gave her the all clear. FiveThirtyEight now puts her chances of winning the Presidency at 65 per cent – not as good as the 81 per cent chance she was enjoying in late October, but still enough to make her the favourite.

It’s also worth remembering that nearly 42million voters have already made their choice, and that less dramatic but essential voter turnout drives are happening across the country. And the ones to watch are Hispanic-American voters. 

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Back in June 2015, political data crunchers at Latino Decisions estimated any candidate would need to win over nearly half of Hispanic-American voters to win the White House. Indeed, they argued that the 2016 candidate would need to double the 23 per cent share enjoyed by the relatively bland Mitt Romney. At the time, many Republicans agreed. All eyes were on the nominees Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush (whose wife was born in Mexico), who might manage to finally combine the familiar territory of “family values” with a growing demographic’s vote. 

By contrast, Trump showed little interest in engaging with Hispanic-American voters. As well as repeatedly promising to build a “great wall” between Mexico and the US, he has accused Mexican immigrants of being “criminals” and “rapists“.

One year, and many Trump slurs against Mexicans later, Latino Decisions predicts 79 per cent of Hispanic-American voters will plump for Clinton, with just 18 per cent choosing Trump. 

The Democrat veteran Harry Reid has spearheaded a campaign in Nevada, a key state, that targets nonpartisan, Hispanic-American voters. According to Politico, Reid has created “perhaps the most fearsome political machine in history”. Early vote statistics suggest a record turnout in the battleground states.

So, while FBI investigations and Trumpian conspiracy theories may make the headlines on the final day of the race, if Trump gets his comeuppance at the hands of the group he has attacked and mocked, there may be another twist yet. 

A shorter version of this article appeared in Morning Call, the daily newsletter. You can subscribe here.