Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump headed to North Carolina on Thursday in a final effort to shore up support in the swing state as polls showed Clinton maintained her lead nationally just days ahead of the November 8 presidential election. Clinton was leading Trump by 6 percentage points, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Wednesday. Two new polls released on Thursday, by the New York Times/CBS and the Washington Post/ABC, showed her with a slimmer lead: in line with a drop in her advantage since the re-emergence last week of a controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.
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An average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics website showed Clinton ahead by 1.7 percentage points on Thursday, well down from the solid lead she had until late last month.
The tightening White House race has rattled financial markets as investors weigh a possible Trump victory. Investors have generally seen Clinton as the candidate who would maintain the status quo, while there is more market uncertainty over what a Trump presidency might mean in terms of economic policy, free trade and geopolitics.
Market nerves over the US election were eclipsed on Thursday by a UK court ruling that parliament must approve a government decision to trigger Brexit, or the exit from the European Union.
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Clinton, a former secretary of state hoping to become the first woman to be elected US president, was in Arizona on Wednesday evening, addressing one of her largest rallies to date. She called on a crowd of about 15,000 at Arizona State University to imagine life with a Trump presidency, particularly for women, Latinos and Muslims.
Trump, a New York businessman who has never previously run for political office, has caused frequent offence during his unorthodox campaign, while winning support for his promises to upend politics as usual in Washington.
“What would your life be like if he were in the White House?” Clinton said. “And the truth is we really don’t have to guess. We just have to look at everything he has said and done in his career and this campaign, it’s a good preview of what would likely happen,” she said.
“If you add up all of the people and all the groups of people he has insulted and demeaned it makes way more than half of America,” Clinton added.
She and Trump are focused heavily on states where the race is close, given the White House is decided by the Electoral College system of tallying wins on a state-by-state basis.
On Thursday, Clinton was to hold two events in North Carolina, where early voting has already started in the race for the southern state’s 15 electoral votes.
Trump also had three events scheduled in the state after urging supporters at a rally in Miami on Wednesday to turn out and vote.
Florida, like North Carolina, is considered a must-win state for the presidential contenders. President Barack Obama scheduled a stop in Jacksonville later on Thursday to stump for Clinton – part of a campaign swing by him this week that also included stops in North Carolina and Ohio.
A RealClearPolitics average of polls in the Florida, which carries 29 electoral votes, put Trump 0.7 point ahead of Clinton. In North Carolina, the race is tied with both Clinton and Trump at 46 per cent, the RealClearPolitics average showed.
Polls of other key battleground states also show a tight race in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Nevada, among others.
Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, stumped for her husband in a rare appearance on the trail on Thursday, speaking in Berwyn, Pennsylvania and telling an enthusiastic crowd of her plans to focus on women and children’s issues if she became first lady.
Clinton led Trump by 3 percentage points among 1,333 registered voters in the Times/CBS poll taken October 28-November 1 and published on Thursday.
The survey, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, showed Clinton with 45 per cent support compared to 42 per cent for Trump, according to the Times.
A Washington Post/ABC poll showed Clinton 2 percentage points ahead among 1,767 likely voters surveyed October 29 – November 1, at 47 per cent to Trump’s 45 per cent. It also had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.