On the final weekend and the last day before Election Day, the candidates have criss-crossed the country making their final pushes. A look at their itineraries is a good indicator of what matters to the campaigns and what they think their path to victory is.
Despite a narrowing of the polls, Clinton maintains an advantage in terms of the electoral college, and is counting heavily on her organizing advantage to carry her across the finish line in states that are close, while Trump needs to win the states that are close and then also flip some of the states in which she is ahead. These different strategies express themselves in the candidates’ schedules.
Clinton’s schedule for today includes stops in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and North Carolina. Both Pennsylvania and Michigan are states in which Clinton has a lead, but that have not had any early voting. In other words, Clinton’s campaign is taking no chances and is using the most valuable asset presidential campaigns have – their candidate – to drum up enthusiasm so that voters go to the polls tomorrow. For similar reasons, Clinton spent much of her time over the last few weeks in states that do have early voting.
North Carolina is a state that Barack Obama won in 2008 but lost again in 2012. It is one of the only states that went for Romney in 2012 that Clinton is seriously contesting, mainly because the state has shifted demographically to where it is more favorable for a Democratic candidate. A key component of that is to drive up turnout among black voters and liberal white voters in the state.
Trump meanwhile has scheduled campaign stops that reflect a different approach. Today he will visit Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Michigan. This is an offensive strategy, because the Trump campaign knows that he must at least win Florida and North Carolina, and then also flip another state in which Clinton currently leads.
His campaigns hopes he can flip Michigan or New Hampshire, and he also visited Minnesota over the weekend. Minnesota is a somewhat surprising move that can only be explained as a last ditch attempt to be on offense in a state that is mostly white but that has been safely in Democratic hands. A surge in white turnout there has a slim chance of flipping the state, which is a prize the Trump campaign is willing to take risks for.
By Alex Lange, JKL Political Analyst