The presidential election could be a nail-biter next Tuesday, as the first ABC/Washington Post tracking poll since FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on Friday shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a dead heat.
The poll shows both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees at 46 percent. Likely voters also now see Mr. Trump as more honest than Mrs. Clinton. When asked which candidate is more trustworthy, 47 percent picked Trump, while 38 percent picked Clinton.
The neck-and-neck race conjures up the 2000 presidential election, the closest ever in US history. To ensure a Florida recount or a Supreme Court decision doesn't decide the next president, the two candidates have honed in on battleground states such as Arizona, North Carolina, and, of course, Florida. They are both encouraging their supporters to vote – and vote early.
"Pay no attention to the polls!" Clinton said at an event in Broward College-North Campus in Florida over the weekend, where she warned against complacency even though the polls showed her ahead at the time.
Since then, however, the race has apparently tightened. In fact, Clinton has lost her lead since the ABC/Washington Post tracking poll started after the last televised debate. In the four days following the debate, Clinton led Trump by 12 points. That lead has slowly eroded since then. But it doesn’t appear to be because of Mr. Comey’s letter to Congress on Friday that stated the bureau is investigating the emails of a Clinton aide, Huma Abedin.
In the letter, Comey wrote the bureau has discovered a new batch of Clinton emails on a device Ms. Abedin shared with her estranged husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner. The FBI is taking steps to "determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation," wrote Comey.
Clinton has lost just one point between the four days immediately preceding Comey’s letter and the following four-day period, according to Politico. Trump gained a point in that same period.
But Clinton took a serious hit on trustworthiness. For the first time since the tracking poll began, likely voters consider Trump more trustworthy than Clinton.
Still, Clinton leads among the 23 percent of respondents who have said they’ve already voted. She is ahead of Trump 54 percent to 41 percent. But early voting doesn’t necessarily forecast the future winner. In 2012, for instance, the numbers varied substantially, according to the firm that conducted the poll, Langer Research.
A lot of Trump’s support is also quick to point out their lack of trust in the polls. On Friday, a Politico poll of GOP insiders from 11 battleground states echoed that view, wrote the Christian Science Monitor’s Linda Feldmann. Seventy-one percent said they think the polls understate Trump’s support because some voters don’t want to admit they’re backing him.
The campaigns aren’t taking any chances. Both have made serious pushes in recent days in battleground states. Clinton has targeted Arizona, hoping to be one of only two Democratic candidates that have won the state since 1952. The Clinton campaign is optimistic there because of early voting turnout among Arizona Democrats, as well as Clinton’s support among Hispanics that are turned off by Trump’s immigration policies. But Florida could, perhaps, determine this election.
Always important, Florida has gained new relevance because Trump doesn't appear to have a path to victory without securing Florida’s 29 electoral college votes. The latest Real Clear Politics tabulation of polls shows Trump head by 1 point in Florida.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.