EAU CLAIRE (Wisconsin) • Republican Donald Trump is hunting in enemy territory in the final week of his presidential campaign, desperate to poach a Democratic state and carve a perilously narrow path to victory in his White House race against Mrs Hillary Clinton.
Polls, history, demographics and Mr Trump's own abrasive rhetoric are not on his side, but he is making a last-gasp play for a blue state or two that could put him over the top - if he holds on to Republican ground and seizes the crucial battleground of Florida.
Last Sunday, he was in Colorado and New Mexico, both of which voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and are leaning towards Mrs Clinton.
On Monday, it was Michigan, and on Tuesday, it was Pennsylvania, also favouring Mrs Clinton. Both states have voted Democratic in presidential elections since 1992. Also on Tuesday, Mr Trump visited Wisconsin, whose Democratic streak goes back further, to 1988.
But the Trump team is showing some swagger in blue states.
"I feel like it's going to happen," Ms Carol Robertson, 57, said at Mr Trump's rally in Eau Claire.
Polls have shown Mrs Clinton reliably ahead in Wisconsin for several months, and she is leading by 5.7 percentage points, the latest RealClearPolitics aggregate showed.
But Ms Robertson said polls are unreliable and a silent majority will rise up in Wisconsin and elsewhere. "People are afraid to say 'I support Trump', but they'll vote for him in the privacy of the polling booth."
In his quest to get the 270 electoral votes needed to prevail next Tuesday, Mr Trump is aiming to snatch Rust Belt states like Ohio, a swing state that voted twice for Mr Obama but where working-class voters feel disenfranchised with the collapse of the manufacturing sector.
If Mr Trump holds all the states Republican Mitt Romney won in 2012, and wins Ohio and Florida, he will still be short. He needs to break into Democratic states.
"If you look at the electoral map, there's little question that Trump has to find some of these blue states to flip over," said Mr Geoffrey Peterson, chair of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Wisconsin could be "a logical target" due to its large manufacturing base, which has shrunk in recent decades.
I feel like it's going to happen... People are afraid to say 'I support Trump', but they'll vote for him in the privacy of the polling booth.
MS CAROL ROBERTSON, a Trump rally attendee who believes a silent majority will rise up in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
Its population is also considerably more white than the national average, which means a broader potential base for Mr Trump, who draws heavily from white working- class males. But Mr Peterson said it will not be about Mr Trump winning over new voters at this point, and "it's a get-out-the-vote race".
Mrs Clinton can take heart from the latest projection by Moody's Analytics that has accurately predicted the last nine US presidential contests. She is forecast to pick up 332 electoral college votes against 206 for Mr Trump, said Moody's yesterday.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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