Katie Armour, who is joining the newsdirect team later this month, is currently in the swing state of Colorado working with the Democrat campaign. Here is how it looks from the frontline…
The American presidential election is proving itself to be a tight political race playing out under a global spotlight.
Despite the disbelief in Europe that the relentless Trump polemic hasn’t deterred voters, the distance between the two contenders remains narrow. Polls in the last few days have estimated Clinton can capture 43% of the vote with Trump lagging only 2% behind. The Trump campaign, despite its unmatched levels of political incorrectness and team substitutions, continues to confound. No recent Presidential race has been this interesting, unpredictable and divisive.
This election will have worldwide resonance no matter the outcome. Hillary Clinton is on the precipice of being the first woman to hold the most powerful office on earth. Trump’s intolerant and often ill-judged remarks lend his election the potential to disrupt global stability. There was no way I could turn down the opportunity to witness first-hand the most gripping election in recent memory.
Electoral boundaries matter here, just as in Scotland. This is how I find myself in Denver. This momentous election will be decided in just 11 crucial swing states, of which Colorado is one.
These battlegrounds collectively account for 146 electoral votes, more than half the amount Clinton or Trump would require to win. At the start of summer, Time was reporting Clinton and Trump to be in close contention in many of these key states. The relentless field efforts of the Democrats are keeping Colorado blue for the time being, but before Obama, Colorado had leaned right towards the Republican party for decades. The state had been hailed as a “must-win for Trump unless he plans to balance out the loss”. It is a prize both sides are determined to win.
The election is wider than the presidency – the balance of power in both Congress and the Senate is up for grabs as a proportion of each house faces the electorate in November. At the core of the Clinton strategy is a united, combined campaign – promoting the presidential, senatorial and congressional candidates – in a bid to build a productive foundation for the hopeful President.
The Democrats’ priority is to involve as many Americans as possible in the political process. Every day, organisers and volunteers tirelessly occupy the busy hubs of Denver to expand the electoral register. We are in touch with first time young voters, those who have changed address, the 100,000+ who have flocked to the expanding city in the last year and those who have been inadvertently removed from the voter roll because of the verification process.
Our focus is inclusion and registration across the board, from the lifelong non-voter who is finally moved to participate in such an extreme election, to the newly naturalised or of-age who (often vote in far fewer numbers).
Just like at home, success rests on efficient grassroots work to draw in supporters who can pound the streets, give that personal touch and actively spread the word. This was demonstrated perfectly at a ‘Women for Hillary’ event I attended last week, where a volunteer opened her home to supporters. No lunch is free though – invitees were encouraged to sign up ten friends. Each lead was then followed up, taking the message and support ever further.
The efforts of Democratic campaigners on the ground are helping to edge Hillary towards victory. Complacency remains a threat and we see the polls fluctuate daily, but the fact that at the height of the summer Clinton was collecting 60% more in donations than Trump hopefully speaks volumes, and the traditional business support for the Republicans has been noticeably thin on the ground.
There is more excitement and pizzazz in US elections. Last week, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee was working in our phone bank. Yesterday, Hollywood actor Don Cheadle was registering voters on the main street mall.
It’s colourful, it’s nail biting, and it’s non-stop. Colorado will be crucial, but it’s a great way to spend the summer!
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