Race tightening, Clinton relies on firewall of support

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, November 1, 2016

WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton is pushing her supporters to cast early ballots in key battleground states, as Donald Trump tries to make up ground with intensified attacks following the FBI’s renewed examination of her email practices.

As her national lead shrinks in the final week of the race, Clinton is relying on a firewall of support in more demographically diverse swing states.

Beyond the White House, Republicans see the email exchanges as a new opportunity to win over voters for dozens of down-ballot races that will determine House and Senate control next year.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan told Fox News he voted for Trump last week and warned that electing Clinton and a Democratic-controlled Congress would be “the worst of all possible things.”

“For those of us who lived through the 1990s, it’s sort of a feeling like deja vu,” he said. “This is what life with the Clinton’s looks like. It’s always a scandal then there’s an investigation.”

With more than 23 million ballots already cast through early voting, it’s unclear whether Trump has the time or organizational capacity to improve his standing enough over the next week to win the White House.

While Clinton’s newest email controversy may help Trump pick up support in older, whiter states like Ohio and Iowa, the Republican nominee still faces a narrow pathway to winning the 270 electoral votes — one that includes defending states like Arizona and Utah that Republicans have won for decades.

Both campaigns argued Tuesday they were on the path to victory.

“We’re running like we’re 20 points behind,” said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. “We are going to win this election, but it’s important that every one of our supporters turns out.”

“We’re in great shape. We’re on offense everywhere,” said Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie. “There’s an enthusiasm gap for their voters.” Both spoke on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

With just a week left to go before Election Day, the race for the White House remains a test of a simple question: Will the conventional rules of modern-day campaigns apply to a 2016 election that has been anything but conventional?

Clinton’s campaign has spent nearly two years developing an extensive organizing apparatus, building off the political machine that twice boosted President Barack Obama to victory. Her team has pounded the airwaves with advertising, assembled an expansive voter data file and constructed a nationwide political organization that dwarfs her opponent’s.

Her team is focused on pushing voters to the polls for early voting in critical states such as Florida, Nevada and Colorado, where one-third of the expected ballots have already been cast. On Tuesday, she plans to pound Trump at rallies across Florida.