By Amanda Becker and Emily Stephenson
PHILADELPHIA/MANCHESTER, N.H., Pa., Nov 8 – The U.S. presidential campaign neared its end on Monday in the same angry tone it began, with Republican Donald Trump calling Democrat Hillary Clinton a “phony” and Clinton accusing him of splitting the country, as a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed Clinton with a strong chance of winning.
Clinton and Trump raced through several battleground states in a last-ditch attempt to encourage their supporters to show up and vote on Tuesday.
Clinton sought to capture more support from Latinos, African-Americans and young people, while Trump looked to win over disaffected Democrats and rev up a middle class that he said has been sidelined by the political establishment.
The Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project gave Clinton a 90 percent chance of defeating Trump, seeing her on track to win 303 Electoral College votes out of the 270 needed, to Trump’s 235.
With surveys indicating a tight race in Michigan, which Democrats have long counted on winning, both candidates made campaign appearances there. Pennsylvania, another vote-rich state, was also seen as fertile ground by both camps in the closing hours of their campaigns.
Clinton held the biggest rally of her campaign in Philadelphia on Monday night, drawing a crowd that the city’s Fire Department put at 33,000 to hear her and President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and rockers Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.
“Tomorrow we face the test of our time,” Clinton told supporters, saying they could decide what sort of country they wanted to live in. “We choose to believe in a hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America.”
Obama, who campaigned earlier in the day for Clinton in Ann Arbor, Michigan, reiterated his charge that Trump is “temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief,” and said Clinton offered an experienced and accomplished alternative.
“You don’t just have to vote against someone, you have someone extraordinary to vote for,” Obama said. “She will work and she will deliver, she won’t just tweet.”
Trump told voters at an evening rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, they had one question facing them at the ballot box on Tuesday.
“Do you want America to be ruled by the corrupt political class or do you want America to be ruled again by the people?” he asked. “Tomorrow the American working class will strike back.”
With only hours left before Election Day, the Clinton campaign was boosted by Sunday’s unexpected announcement by FBI Director James Comey that the agency stood by its July decision not to press any criminal charges in an investigation of Clinton’s email practices while she was secretary of state.
The latest opinion polls measuring popular support for each candidate showed Clinton narrowly ahead. She had a 5 percentage point lead over Trump nationally, with 44 percent to 39 percent support, according to latest Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Races in the hotly contested states of Florida and North Carolina were shifting, however, from favoring Clinton to being too close to call.
Clinton, who is trying to become the first woman elected to the White House, had a 4 percentage point lead over Trump in separate polls by Fox News and CBS News released on Monday.
Financial markets brightened on the latest twists in what has been a volatile presidential campaign. Global stock markets surged, as did the U.S. dollar, putting them on track for their biggest gains in weeks, as investors saw Sunday’s announcement by Comey as boosting Clinton’s chances of winning.
Clinton’s comfortable lead had eroded since late last month and investors had been unnerved by the tightening race. Clinton is considered a known quantity, while Trump is considered a political wild card.
Victory is ultimately determined not by the popular vote, but by capturing a majority of the votes in the Electoral College, which awards votes on a state-by-state basis, meaning that a handful of states where the race is close assume an outsized importance.
“LED BY STUPID PEOPLE”
Trump, a former reality TV star who had never previously run for public office, began his last day of campaigning in Sarasota, Florida. He and Clinton have been locked in a tough battle Florida, with its large Hispanic-American population.
Trump gave no ground to Clinton or to polls showing her with a narrow lead. Predicting he would win, he told supporters in Sarasota that Clinton “is such a phony,” saying, “We’re tired of being led by stupid people.”
Trump also stopped in North Carolina and Pennsylvania before closing with a late-night rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Clinton, in addition to Philadelphia, stopped in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and visited Michigan before wrapping up with a midnight rally in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The FBI’s Comey sent shockwaves through the race when he told Congress on Sunday that investigators had reviewed recently discovered emails and found no reason to change their July finding that there was no criminal wrongdoing in Clinton’s use of a private email server, rather than a government system, while she was the top U.S. diplomat from 2009-2013.
Trump, who drew wide criticism last month when he said the election was rigged against him and that he would not yet commit to respecting the outcome, questioned the thoroughness of the FBI review and said the issue would not go away.
Tammy Regis, 42, a disabled Army veteran who served in Iraq and now lives in Palmetto, Florida, said she would not trust the outcome if Clinton wins.
“If she wins, no I won’t. I just think it’s really shady,” Regis said, adding that she did not know why Comey “flip-flopped” on Clinton’s emails.
Since entering the race in 2015 and then seeing off 16 Republican rivals to win the party nomination, Trump has challenged political norms with bombast, personal attacks and unorthodox policies, including proposals to bar Muslims from entering the United States and build a wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.
In October, his campaign was rocked by the circulation of a 2005 video in which he boasted about groping women.
While such controversies have given Clinton the edge among women and minorities, Trump enjoys solid support among non-college-educated whites. For both candidates, turning that support into actual votes is critical to building the electoral votes needed to win.
The make-up of Congress is also at stake on Tuesday. As candidates running for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives wrapped up their campaigns, Republicans were seen as making some gains in their quest to hold onto majority control of both chambers.