The prospect of a come-from- behind victory for Republican nominee Donald Trump is spiking after the latest round of polls, sparking a tactical shift from his opponent and sending jitters across global financial markets.
Stocks opened lower in the United States yesterday after six consecutive days of losses, while markets across Asia closed in the red. European markets were also trading lower. Meanwhile, the Mexican peso - now regarded as an election barometer given Mr Trump's promise to build a wall on the southern US border - slid to a three-week low.
While polling averages still give Mrs Hillary Clinton a lead nationwide, the air of inevitability that surrounded the race just two weeks ago has now completely dissipated in the wake of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) renewed scrutiny of her use of a private e-mail server.
One poll in the key swing state of North Carolina, which had Mr Trump trailing by two points early last month, now has him leading by seven points. Meanwhile, the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll has the two candidates tied - after having Mr Trump behind for nearly six months.
All that translates into a doubling of Mr Trump's chances of securing the Oval Office in forecast models. The FiveThirtyEight forecast - which on Oct 17 gave Mr Trump just a 12 per cent chance of victory - now puts his chances at 29 per cent.
The tightening of the race less than a week before election day next Tuesday has changed the postures of both camps in the final sprint to the finish line.
Mrs Clinton has now all but abandoned her plan to stay positive in the final days - attacking both the FBI for partisanship and Mr Trump for his treatment of women.
Speaking in Florida alongside Ms Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe whom Mr Trump criticised for gaining weight, Mrs Clinton hammered away at the tycoon's history of alleged sexual misconduct.
The campaign also rolled out a new one-minute advertisement on Mr Trump's sexist remarks, due to be aired in 10 swing states.
Mr Trump, in turn, made a rare departure from his all-attack style at a rally in Pennsylvania - in a move meant to try and broaden his appeal with independents and women. Unlike Mrs Clinton, who can win without further expanding her base, the tycoon needs to move at least one traditionally Democratic state into his corner.
On Tuesday, he focused on issues like healthcare and jobs, while also stressing that he is the right person to bring about change. "I am not a politician. My only special interest is you, the American people," he said towards the end of his rally.
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