U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are entering the final stretch of a knock-down, drag out campaign. While Clinton is favored to win, Trump could catch up if he plays his cards right.
The two campaigns have seen a flurry of activities in recent days, with both candidates hitting the campaign trail hard in a bid to shore up support among both their main supporters as well as independent voters.
In Tuesday’s Real Clear Politics poll average, Trump trailed Clinton by 3.3 percentage points. While Clinton is a very unpopular candidate in the U.S., Trump’s outlandish comments and bombastic bravado have gotten him into hot water with moderate voters.
While Trump has galvanized white, blue-collar men like perhaps no other Republican candidate in recent memory, the brash billionaire has turned off single women, independent voters and Hispanics – three crucial voting blocs.
The controversial candidate has in the past compared Mexicans to criminals and rapists, a remark that could end up costing him the election.
Trump has in recent weeks attempted to turn a corner by speaking and acting in a way that is more “presidential.”
For her part, Clinton is nearly as unpopular as Trump, and polls consistently show that Americans do not trust her, as the Democratic nominee is constantly dogged by scandals.
Those include allegedly giving foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation special access to her while she was secretary of state. The foundation is run by Clinton, her husband and former president Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea.
Clinton’ s use of a private email account and server to conduct business while she was secretary of state, instead of using a secure, government-issued email account, is still being questioned by many. Critics have roundly blasted her for playing hard and fast with the nation’ s national security secrets.
While Clinton is now holding a slight lead in the polls, the big question is whether Trump can catch up before the November elections.
To do that, the billionaire mogul needs to do everything he can to reassure moderate voters that he can be calm and cool on the spot, and needs to keep the attention off of him and make the election a referendum on Clinton, analysts said.
“Trump needs to quit making incendiary comments that upset mainstream voters. He often steps on his own message through rude statements that distract from his message about helping the middle class,” Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.
It’s not too late for Trump, but he needs to shine during the upcoming presidential one-on-one presidential debates against Hillary. He not only needs to shine, but he needs to soundly and decisively defeat the Democratic candidate and trip her up on the stump, and cause voters watching nationwide to question her honesty and integrity.
“It is not too late for Trump but he will have to do something in the debates to change the current narrative that she (Hillary) is going to win,” West said.
While experts look at the average of many polls to determine which candidate is in the lead, some individual polls have Trump leading Clinton by a small margin.
Indeed, a new CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday found that 45 percent of likely voters back Trump, and 43 percent back Clinton, with the rest supporting a couple of independent party candidates.
Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua that in order to continue to close the gap in the polls, Trump needs to improve his standing among college-educated white voters.
This is a segment that has traditionally been split between Democrats and Republicans, but polls show that Trump is lagging far behind past Republican candidates like Mitt Romney and John McCain.
Certainly, appearing more “presidential” -even tempered and more balanced-will be important for Trump to reach out to this group. However, he continues to double-down on some positions, like immigration, that make it harder for him to continue to reach out to educated voters and other moderates, Mahaffee said.
Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told Xinhua that Trump needs to secure his position with core Republican voters and he also needs to gain considerable ground in most of the battle ground states by convincing voters that he is capable of governing.
In the final stretch, it is not too late for Trump to win the election, Zelizer said.
“It is not too late and it would be a mistake to discount him,” he said.