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America’s Race to the Ballot’s Bottom

WASHINGTON, DC – Hillary Clinton’s US presidential campaign has been torn between trying to secure the largest possible victory for the candidate herself and explicitly helping fellow Democratic gubernatorial and legislative candidates further down the ballot. It’s an open question whether Clinton could do more for down-ballot candidates by winning decisively – so that the enthusiasm trickles down – or by expending time and money to help those candidates individually.

The Clinton camp has decided to pursue both strategies. With just a week left before the election, the presidential candidates are crisscrossing the country: whereas Republican nominee Donald Trump is struggling to cobble together the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win, Clinton is trying to lock up as large a victory – in both the popular vote and the Electoral College – as possible.

Just a week ago, Clinton seemed to be heading toward an overwhelming victory. But on October 28, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing that he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State. The reason? Thousands of emails had been discovered on the laptop of the estranged husband of Clinton’s closest assistant, Huma Abedin, during a separate inquiry into his own activities. (No, this isn’t a movie plot.)

Comey’s announcement triggered an uproar, but it hasn’t so far had a notable impact on the race. The Clinton campaign has not given up even on winning states that have long been considered Republican strongholds, such as Arizona, Georgia, and Utah. And Trump, despite feeling invigorated by the discovery, has continued to pursue states, such as New Mexico, that would do him little good in the Electoral College count. But Trump, new to politics, fancies himself a great political strategist.