WASHINGTON -- Will Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump move into the White House when President Barack Obama leaves in January 2017?
The final sprint to the November 8 election is on. Here are five points to consider with two months to go.
Polls tight but favor Clinton
The latest poll, conducted by CNN/ORC, shows a dramatic tightening in the race with 45 percent of likely voters favoring Trump, compared to 43 percent for Clinton.
The results made a splash but a study of the electoral system and the US map presents a slightly different image.
The presidential election is effectively the sum of 50 state elections, with each candidate gunning for a majority of 538 electoral votes, or 270, divided among the states.
With two exceptions, states award all of their votes to the candidate who wins there — and from the look of things, Trump has a tough road ahead.
The real estate mogul must win a number of battleground states where victory is far from assured — Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina.
But he must also lock in all the traditionally Republican states, several of which — namely Georgia, Texas and Arizona — look as if they might snub the unconventional candidate, a major worry for the Trump camp.
An Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll released Wednesday showed that the two candidates are neck-and-neck in the western US border state: Clinton held a slim advantage among likely voters, 35.1 to 33.5 percent for Trump.
A survey of 50 states (and more than 74,000 registered voters) released this week by the Washington Post also laid out the challenge facing the 70-year-old Trump.
He trails badly among college-educated white voters, a demographic that is typically a Republican strength. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the group 56-42 percent over Obama.
And a final bit of bad news for the bombastic New Yorker: averages of national polls, regardless of the group doing the compilation, show Clinton leading Trump.
Not a done deal
After a catastrophic August for Trump, some analysts predicted an easy road for Clinton, 68, leading straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But the latest figures are clear. Trump is not out of the race, in fact, he has even gained some ground.
Nate Silver, the guru of American electoral statistics, said the central question is “whether the race has settled into a four-point Clinton lead, as the polls have it now, or is continuing to trend toward Trump.”
If Clinton’s lead remains about four points around the time of the first debate on September 26, then Silver said she could be “reasonably” confident that the presidency will be out of Trump’s reach.
In poll after poll, one thing remains constant: these two candidates are extremely unpopular.
According to the CNN/ORC survey, 54 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, and 56 percent of Clinton.
Another telling indicator: only 46 percent of Americans say they’re very enthusiastic about the presidential campaign, compared to 57 percent in 2012 and 60 percent in 2008.
Email scandal refuses to die
The Justice Department said in July that it would follow a recommendation from the FBI and not prosecute Clinton following an investigation into her use of a private email account during her time as secretary of state.
The Democrat hoped that would close the book on the embarrassing affair, which she has called a “mistake.”
But the scandal just won’t go away. FBI chief James Comey was called to testify in front of a Congressional committee, and last week published the notes of his investigation.
The investigation notes delighted the Trump camp, which has played up the fact that Comey said Clinton had been “extremely careless” in sending classified information via her personal email account.