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Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson.
Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson.

JOHN IBBITSON

Forget Clinton’s e-mails. It’s the ground game that matters Add to ...

It’s safe to assume not a single precinct flipped for Hillary Clinton, after James Comey declared Sunday that the FBI hadn’t found anything incriminating in the latest batch of suspect e-mails.

But that won’t matter. Donald Trump hoped to surf a wave of populist revolt to the White House. Instead, he’s being killed in the advance polls, proof that in this election, as in most others, ground game matters.

Democratic and Republican partisans have back-flipped their way to Olympic gold trying explain the FBI director’s motives in the Clinton e-mail affair. What they may have neglected to calculate is that Mr. Comey was simply trying to do his job.

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The bureau was charged with investigating whether Ms. Clinton, as secretary of state, committed a crime by sending and receiving e-mails through a private server. Mr. Comey announced in July that Ms. Clinton had been careless, but had done nothing criminal. He’s been bought off! Republicans yelled. He’s as corrupt as she is!

Then other e-mails came to light, which might or might not have incriminated Ms. Clinton. Mr. Comey announced 10 days ago that the FBI was reviewing this new cache as well. He’s trying to swing the election! Democrats yelled. He’s a GOP hack!

Mr. Comey announced Sunday that, after reviewing the latest batch, there was still nothing that implicated Ms. Clinton. He caved! Republican partisans howled. He’s a Democratic stooge!

“You have to understand, it’s a rigged system and she’s protected,” Mr. Trump explained at a Minnesota rally, Sunday.

It doesn’t matter. There can’t be many voters out there – there may not be one – whose thinking goes like this: I was going to vote for Hillary after the FBI cleared her, but then I switched to Trump when they said they were still investigating, but now I’m with Hillary again because they cleared her again.

What we are seeing in these final hours is evidence of the power of the Clinton machine. Hispanic turnout in the battleground state of Nevada is up an estimated 30 per cent compared to the 2012 election. Since Hispanics are expected to vote 80-20 or more for the Democrats, this is good news for the Democrats.

The same is true in Florida. In the crucial county of Miami-Dade, for example, early voting is up 46 per cent from 2012; Miami-Dade is heavily Latino. The Latino advance vote is also up in North Carolina and Arizona, two states that went Republican in 2012 but that Ms. Clinton would dearly love to capture this time out.

You really shouldn’t have called them rapists and murderers, Mr. Trump.

The advance vote, however, is down in some areas with heavily African-American populations. It wouldn’t be surprising if these voters were less motivated to vote for Ms. Clinton than for the man who became the first black president in the history of the United States.

What matters today is that the Clinton camp appears to have identified its vote, especially among Latinos, and delivered that vote to advance polls. There is no sign as yet the Trump camp has gotten its vote out, whatever that vote may be.

What matters more, however, is what happens tomorrow. Are Latinos so exercised by Mr. Trump’s slanders that they come out in droves on election day, as well as in advance polls? Will President Barack Obama’s pleas to African-Americans to preserve the legacy of his administration by voting for Ms. Clinton motivate them to come out and cast a ballot?

Will women voters stand in line for as long as it takes to register their disapproval with a Republican nominee who, in the past, has treated them like so many pieces of meat? Will angry, white working-class Trump supporters in the industrial states of the Midwest prove that they are still a formidable force that must not be counted out?

We will soon know. But for supporters of Ms. Clinton, all the news is good, one day before the poll that matters.

With reports from Heavy.com and Politico

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Follow on Twitter: @JohnIbbitson

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