The 2016 campaign refuses to go quietly into the night. Just last Thursday the story line was that Hillary Clinton had the election all wrapped up and the critical question was whether she would get a Democrat-controlled Senate. However, the surprise announcement on Friday by FBI Director James B. Comey that the investigation into Clinton’s use of a personal email system was being revived introduced a new factor into the final week of the campaign.
Race was already tightening
There were signs that the race was tightening even before the FBI’s announcement. A Washington Post/ABC News poll that was released on Saturday showed Hillary Clinton’s lead had shrunk to two points – 47% to 45%. A week ago, the same poll showed Clinton with a 12-point lead. The poll was taken over a four-day period and included only one day's data after the release of the FBI’s letter.
A new national poll that was taken before Friday's bombshell announcement that the FBI was reviewing emails related to Hillary Clinton's private server finds the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump in a tight race. — CNN
While it is unclear if the FBI’s announcement puts Clinton’s path to the presidency at risk, it is clear that the story will dominate the news for the next several days – unless there is another even more surprising story that breaks during the week. In the background is the continuing daily release of emails belonging to Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta by WikiLeaks.
30% have already voted
About 18 million Americans or about 30% of the expected voter turnout for 2016 had already voted before the FBI announcement. While no one knows how those votes were cast, the media is of the opinion that the early vote is showing signs of strength for Hillary Clinton.
Clinton attacks Comey
The Clinton campaign has decided on a strategy of attacking FBI Director Comey over his decision to announce the reopening of the investigation. The campaign drafted a letter criticizing Mr. Comey and sent it to former federal prosecutors over the weekend. Former Attorney General Eric Holder was among the thirty prosecutors that have signed the letter.
Many of us have worked with Director Comey; all of us respect him. But his unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry just eleven days before a presidential election leaves us both astonished and perplexed. Perhaps most troubling to us is the precedent set by this departure from the Department’s widely-respected, non-partisan traditions. — Clinton campaign letter
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) questioned whether Comey had violated the Hatch Act, which bars officials from influencing an election. “Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law,” Mr. Reid said in a letter.
Trump praises FBI Director
At the same time, Donald Trump and other Republicans praised the FBI’s decision and were clearly delighted at the turmoil it has created for Clinton and the Democrats.
I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made. — Donald Trump
The nation will have to wait another eight days to find out the results of the election. In the meantime, events of the past few days have served to make the final week considerably more interesting.