US Elections 2016

Voters turn up bright and early

After a long and bruising campaign, Americans finally head to the polls to vote for their next president. Will it be Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump?
VOTE FOR HOPE: You can vote for a hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America. - MRS HILLARY CLINTON, addressing the crowd yesterday at the Reynolds Coliseum on the North Carolina State University's campus during her final campaign stop before election d
VOTE FOR HOPE: You can vote for a hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America. - MRS HILLARY CLINTON, addressing the crowd yesterday at the Reynolds Coliseum on the North Carolina State University's campus during her final campaign stop before election day.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
VOTE FOR CHANGE: Dream big because with your vote, we're just one day away from the change you have been waiting for your entire life. - MR DONALD TRUMP, at the final rally of his presidential campaign at Devos Place in Michigan yesterday.
VOTE FOR CHANGE: Dream big because with your vote, we're just one day away from the change you have been waiting for your entire life. - MR DONALD TRUMP, at the final rally of his presidential campaign at Devos Place in Michigan yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Bitterly fought campaign for top job has not adversely affected turnout, early signs show

Long lines snaked out of polling stations in New York and across the East Coast as one of the most heavily anticipated election days in the United States began - an early sign that the overwhelmingly negative campaign has not tamped down voter turnout.

At 7am yesterday, there were already 100 people waiting outside a polling station in midtown New York. Similar lines were reported across states like Virginia and Ohio.

Ms Sasha Koren, 44, a digital creative, was queueing with her eight-year-old daughter at a polling station in Manhattan and said she was excited to vote because of what was at stake in the election, even though she was initially sceptical about Mrs Hillary Clinton.

"When Clinton started out, I didn't like her - she was so lawyerly and all her answers were so smug. But I now see it as a defence mechanism... I don't want Bart Simpson as president, I want Lisa," she said, comparing the two candidates to the squabbling siblings from the TV series The Simpsons.

Hours earlier, Mr Donald Trump and Mrs Clinton had wrapped up their campaigns with late-night rallies in Michigan and North Carolina, respectively.

In his remarks, Mr Trump emphasised the populist economic message that has made him a champion in towns that have seen manufacturing jobs shipped overseas.

He reiterated his promise to battle free trade deals and to restore the country's manufacturing base.

"We are going to bring back the automobile industry to Michigan, bigger and better than ever before," he told the crowds.

"Today is our independence day. Today the American working class is going to strike back, finally."

 

He also revisited some of his most effective themes - the attacks on Mrs Clinton as corrupt and his appeal as a political outsider to an electorate looking for change. "She is being protected by a totally rigged system that I have been talking about for a long time. Now is time for the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box," he said.

Over at a university campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, Mrs Clinton described the choice for American voters as one "between division and unity, between strong, steady leadership or a loose cannon who could put everything at risk".

Despite the tightening race, Mr Trump remains the underdog, with the polling gap between him and Mrs Clinton larger than the ones President Barack Obama enjoyed over Mr Mitt Romney in 2012 and the lead then president George W. Bush had over Senator John Kerry in 2004.

The final clutch of polls released on Monday all show Mrs Clinton's chances ticking up slightly. The RealClearPolitics average in a four-way race now has Mrs Clinton up by 3.3 points, up about 1 point from a day earlier.

As of press time, a real-time analysis of exit polls by VoteCastr gave Mrs Clinton a narrow 2.7-point lead in the swing state of Colorado.

The final day of campaigning on Monday has seen the two camps criss-cross the country in a frenzied final sprint to get voters to the polls.

 

As has been the case in the past week, Mr Trump went it alone while Mrs Clinton relied heavily on her list of high-profile allies.

President Obama, who has been a more active campaigner for Mrs Clinton than most sitting presidents have been, appeared to treat some of the stops almost as a farewell tour of his own, even reviving some of the stories he told while campaigning for president in 2008 and 2012.

The President and First Lady Michelle Obama appeared with Mrs Clinton and her family in Philadelphia before the largest crowd of the Clinton campaign.

The event - which also included performances from Bruce Spring- steen and Jon Bon Jovi - appeared to be designed to symbolise the final handover from one Democratic Party leader to the next.

There, Mr Obama delivered one of his trademark soaring speeches, in a bid to get the coalition of voters that put him in the White House to do the same for Mrs Clinton.

"You bet on me all those years ago and I will always be grateful for the privilege you gave me to serve," he said. "And, America, I'm betting on you one more time... I am betting that tomorrow, you will reject fear and you'll choose hope."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'Voters turn up bright and early '. Print Edition | Subscribe