The Final Countdown

A live blog of the final days of the campaign trail, from on the ground in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. For campaign tips or commentary hit me up at or on Twitter @AleksVicko.

Image source: NY Daily News November 9, 20168:16 am

Well there ends the most extraordinary election campaign the world has ever seen, with a bizarre speech by a man who has never held political office of any kind and will now be inducted into the most powerful political office on this Earth.

What comes next will be a great experiment in democracy itself, and I for one will be wishing his administration well and hoping this will not have been a great mistake.

But for now I’m going to get some much needed sleep, for even newshounds can only take so much.

Sincere thanks to everyone who followed my thread over recent days and equally sincere thanks to those that did not but retain my friendship nonetheless. It has been truly comforting to see so many take a genuine interest in the history we just witnessed.

Good night. And good luck. November 9, 20167:49 am

Introduces the “next President of the United States”. Rather than bringing you the quotes, I am going to watch the speech in total and post some reflections. I am sure you will have ample opportunity to see the speech in full in coming days. November 9, 20167:46 am

“The American people have spoken and the American people have elected their new champion.” – Mike Pence November 9, 20167:45 am

Trump running mate and the next Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, taking the stage November 9, 20167:45 am

BREAKING: CNN announces that Hillary Clinton has called Donald Trump to concede defeat. It is official. November 9, 20167:43 am

BREAKING NEWS: Fox News announces Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. CNN has not yet made the call. November 9, 20167:27 am

For my two cents, in this speech Trump needs to get the balance right between thanking his diehard supporters that backed him from the start – when the entire US political and media establishment said it was impossible – and acknowledge that they are celebrating BUT also to acknowledge there are millions of Americans who are shocked and even scared about what is going down. If he is going to govern this nation he needs to end the campaign and act like a leader immediately.

But nuance has never come easily to Trump. November 9, 20167:24 am

Trump just arrived at his election HQ in New York. Awaiting his remarks. November 9, 20167:23 am

It should be pointed out that there is currently a discrepancy between the media outlets over the declaration of states. Fox for e.g. has called Wisconsin but not Pennsylvania, AP has called it the other way around and CNN has called neither.

i.e. unless either Fox or AP is wrong, Trump will 100% get to 270 electoral votes. November 9, 20167:08 am

Trump confidante Corey Lewandowski says Hillary Clinton should have addressed the people and should call Donald Trump and graciously admit defeat. Says this is a shocking double standard, Trump would have been crucified by the press if he sent out a staff member.” November 9, 20167:05 am

“we so proud of you and so proud of her…We will have more to say…Let’s bring this home” – Podesta says. Definitely not a concession speech, indicates they still see a path to victory. All over within a minute. November 9, 20167:03 am

John Podesta takes the stage. “It’s been a long night and a long campaign, but I say we can wait longer. They are still counting the votes and every vote should count.” November 9, 20166:59 am

In any other election, this would be a concession speech by the losing side. But judging by this campaign, there could be another twist. Unclear why Mrs Clinton is not the one addressing the crowd. November 9, 20166:57 am

Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta – who was the subject of a WikiLeaks cyberattack which made thousands of his personal emails public during the campaign – is about to take the stage. November 9, 20166:52 am November 9, 20166:51 am

BREAKING NEWS: Associated Press calls Pennsylvania for Trump. November 9, 20166:01 am

“Donald Trump represents a fundamental change in Washington, DC – Republicans and Democrats for decades have lied and not done what they said they were gonna do…What we are seeing is that the people have listened to what the media said, that Trump is a racist and a misogynist and they said ‘you don’t understand, we want wholesale and fundamental change”

– Corey Lewandowski, former Trump 2016 campaign manager November 9, 20165:58 am

I get the sense that many of you need a pick-me-up as we await the final results, so I will leave this positive message (with apologies to the vegetarians, who are probably more sombre than others) November 9, 20165:54 am

85% of the vote counted in Wisconsin, Trump maintains lead by 90,000-odd votes November 9, 20165:49 am

Van Jones (former Obama aide) and Paul Begala (longtime Clinton staffer/ally) holding back tears on CNN.

“This is in part a whitelash against a black president,” says Van Jones. “That’s the bit that is painful. Donald Trump has a responsibility to come out tonight and assure people he will be president for all of us.”
Jones – no stranger to presidential politics – obviously not believing there is any possibility of a Clinton win. November 9, 20165:36 am

Interesting perspective on markets turmoil from Brit Hume of Fox News – to be fair, hardly a chief economist – saying Trump will be “pro-business” and that therefore the plunge is likely a “buying opportunity” from the masters November 9, 20165:33 am
Major tumble in financial markets intensifies as Trump gets closer to 270. The term doublebrexit now trending on Twitter November 9, 20165:29 am November 9, 20165:27 am

BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton has won the state of Nevada and its six electoral votes (Fox News).

The state was talked about as being likely to be significant tonight, but Trump’s upset in Wisconsin and wins in swing states Ohio, NC and Florida has made Nevada less important since it has so few electoral college votes. November 9, 20165:20 am

“The person perhaps most upset by this is sitting on the second floor of the White House currently…Obama’s legacy is absolutely in jeopardy” – Brett Baier, Fox News. Much of Obama’s legislative agenda – given he faced a Republican Congress – came via his own executive orders, meaning he needed a Democratic successor. November 9, 20165:05 am

Trump currently has 232, Hillary Clinton 209. 270 needed in total. November 9, 20165:00 am

Awaiting results in Pennsylvania (only an hour or so east from where I sit) and Michigan (an hour or so north). If either goes for Trump will be the first time since Reagan in 1988. November 9, 20164:57 am

No stats yet on voter turnout but likely to have been low. Huge GOTV effort by the Democrats seems to have fallen short. November 9, 20164:43 am

The silent majority November 9, 20164:43 am

Seems increasingly obvious that the ‘silent majority’ I anticipated in recent weeks (see below) was indeed a decisive factor. Over the past year I have encountered hundreds of Americans who say they publicly they had no preference in this race, but their commentary on current affairs – and the look in their eyes – indicated to me they had already cast a vote for Trump. November 9, 20164:34 am

Iowa also to Trump – NYT conclusion of “momentum” firmly underway. November 9, 20164:32 am

BREAKING NEWS: Wisconsin – a blue state that went for Obama twice – has voted for Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton’s path increasingly difficult. Major momentum under way for Trump. November 9, 20164:20 am

Having said that, Trump leading in Michigan and Wisconsin. The New York Times – no fan of Trump – has concluded he is now “building national momentum” across the electoral map. November 9, 20164:17 am

Talk from many pundits of both stripes starting to sound Brexit-like – rise of anti-globalisation, anti-immigration populism, ‘how did this happen?’ analysis. Important to remember both candidates have a path to the presidency. November 9, 20164:02 am

BREAKING NEWS: Fox News calls Florida and North Carolina for Trump, with a massive 29 and 15 electoral votes respectively. Now has a path to the White House. Tide is turning for Trump but it is far from a done deal. November 9, 20163:48 am

Current state of play below – 167 for Trump, 122 for Clinton (remember 270 to win) – Trump increasingly has a path to victory, but requires positive numbers to continue in Michigan and Wisconsin (states that are generally considered blue and voted for Obama twice. November 9, 20163:46 am November 9, 20163:42 am

“It is entirely possible that Donald Trump is re-drawing the electoral map the way that he said he was going to…right now it’s Donald Trump vs. the experts – and Donald Trump might have been right” – Jake Tapper, CNN November 9, 20163:40 am

BREAKING NEWS – Despite Trump putting up an unexpectedly good fight in a number of counties, Hillary Clinton was won the Commonwealth of Virginia November 9, 20163:29 am

BREAKING NEWS – OHIO – where I am currently located – has gone for Donald Trump along with its 19 electoral college votes.

Major boost for Trump has Ohio is a traditional bellwether which has picked the president correctly 25 of the last 27 elections, as I reflected on here:

Buckeye bellwether November 9, 20163:27 am

BREAKING NEWS – Swing state of Colorado goes to Hillary along with 9 electoral votes, significant as both campaigns spent $$$ in Colorado, thought they had a chance. November 9, 20163:22 am

BREAKING – Missouri goes to Trump, taking him to 149 (CNN) November 9, 20163:17 am

Following our interview earlier today (see below) my mate in the Trump trenches Brian McCann offers his electoral map projection, differing greatly from Damien’s and JD’s below. This one has Trump winning Michigan, Wisconsin, NC and Florida, taking him to 290 – and the White House. November 9, 20163:10 am

Mexican currency falls as does global futures market, signs Trump is doing better than expected currently. But polls still open on the west coast don’t forget – states with large Mexican populations BTW November 9, 20163:08 am November 9, 20163:05 am

BREAKING: CNN calls Montana for Trump, Connecticut for Clinton – both safe states, no surprises here November 9, 20162:51 am

Alabama called – unsurprisingly – for Trump. Those 9 electoral votes take his total to 136. (CNN) November 9, 20162:41 am

BREAKING: Hillary picks up New Mexico (5 electoral votes) and Trump picks up Louisiana (8 electoral votes) – FOX News November 9, 20162:39 am

Still a long way to go folks – time for some light LOLs to calm the nerves:

Source: November 9, 20162:31 am

Trump currently leads in Florida 49.2% to 47.7% with 94% of the vote counted – this is a crucial, must-win state for the Republicans. However, remaining Broward County around Fort Lauderdale predicted to be heavily democrat. November 9, 20162:25 am

BREAKING: Arkansas and Nebraska for Trump, New York state for Clinton. Total: Trump (128), Clinton (97). – CNN November 9, 20162:10 am

Both campaigns neck and neck in North Carolia – a difference of less than 700 votes (CNN). Trump up in Virginia which was expected to go blue November 9, 20162:08 am

BREAKING NEWS: Google/AP calls a number states for Trump – Texas, Kansas, Wyoming, Sth Dakota, Nth Dakota, South Carolina November 9, 20162:03 am

“Both Democrats and Republicans I am texting with are surprised how close this is” – Dana Bash, CNN November 9, 20161:41 am

Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stierwalt predicts a long and painful count in Florida, and possibly even constitutional crisis – something all too recent for American voters. “I’d get the 2000 map ready, I’d start brushing up on hanging chads,” he says. Yikes, better get some more coffee November 9, 20161:35 am

Current state of the race:

– Trump leads the popular vote 50.4% v Hillary 46.0% (CNN)
– Clinton leads the electoral college race 68 to Trump 66 (CNN)

nailbiter November 9, 20161:31 am

Upset in the Indiana Senate race, former Marine and Republican freshman Congressman Todd Young beats former Governor Evan Bayh, who is a household name in Indiana. The announcement has prompted copious social media activity along the lines of “bye Bayh” November 9, 20161:23 am November 9, 20161:15 am

BREAKING: CNN calls a number of traditional red states for Trump – Oklahoma, Tennessee and Mississippi November 9, 20161:10 am

Clinton is currently leading in both North Carolina and Ohio – swing states – by not-insignificant margins but importantly only a small % of votes counted so far November 9, 20161:03 am

BREAKING NEWS: CNN calls a number of traditional Democratic states for Hillary Clinton, namely Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland as well as D.C. November 9, 20161:00 am

And another projection has just come in from an ecos/law student called Damien Vickovich AKA Lennox Lampnut. Not sure if he knows his shit but apparently comes from a good family: November 9, 201612:50 am

JD is right so far. But I think Trump could still pull off Florida, or even Michigan or Colorado. Should he end up being on the money, surely you could buy him a few drinks for his bravery.

Have a go at your map with the CNN interative electoral map and feel free to share with me: November 9, 201612:47 am

My friend and colleague Jerome Doraisamy, a journalist and author of The Wellness Doctrines (mandatory reading for any lawyers, law students and those with an interest in mental health), has offered his own projection: November 9, 201612:38 am

BREAKING: West Virginia called for Trump (5 electoral college votes) – Associated Press (AP) November 9, 201612:17 am

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky retains his seat. Paul ran for president in the Republican primaries, but dropped out in February. He had some heated exchanges with Trump during the debates and is often described as libertarian, with more liberal views on drugs and criminal justice reform.

His old man, Ron Paul, ran for president in 2012. November 9, 201612:09 am

North Carolina announces it will extend its polls due to “computer glitch problem” – CNN November 9, 201612:06 am

Trump starts off the night with 19 electoral votes, Clinton with 3 November 9, 201612:05 am

BREAKING NEWS: Vermont called for Clinton November 9, 201612:04 am

BREAKING NEWS: CNN and FOX call Kentucky and Indiana for Trump November 9, 201612:04 am

Polls close. Results are coming in folks… November 8, 201611:46 pm

The New York Times offers it’s two cents on the Senate races to watch:

Republicans only hold a majority in the Senate by four seats, so could be major change in Congress tonight. November 8, 201611:40 pm

Just spoke with my friend Lindsay Horn, who sits on the state committee of the Libertarian Party in Indiana, about Gary Johnson’s campaign for the presidency, the role of minor parties in the US and libertarian philosophy. Have a listen: November 8, 201611:32 pm November 8, 201611:31 pm

Not sure how many Harry Potter fans are voting for Trump tonight but they won’t be happy about this one: November 8, 201610:37 pm

This is what a self-funded campaign looks like. With thanks to correspondents in the field Danny and Miles McGuinness: November 8, 201610:14 pm

Exit polls looking surprisingly promising for Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, Fox News TV anchor reports. More to come on this. Thoughts on the LP race here and here November 8, 201610:07 pm

Shout out to John Lewis AKA Western Smell, one of the more committed followers of this thread. November 8, 201610:07 pm

Less than two hours until the booths close in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia (that’s a whole lot of electoral college votes – 60 to be precise). November 8, 20169:41 pm November 8, 20169:38 pm

Not only are sausage sizzles and campaign handouts strictly prohibited at the polling booths, but so is any campaign merchandise, including 2016’s iconic red cap.

One voter decided to take his chances, with hilarious results. See above for video. November 8, 20169:12 pm

I started this live blog a few days ago with a recap of how the electoral college system works, but for the sake of convenience here is another my old London tube buddy The Economist, written specifically for a foreign audience: November 8, 20169:01 pm

For those interested, major rally in global stock markets yesterday as well as $USD, anticipating Hillary win. While Trump arguably has the more business friendly policies – major cuts to corporate tax rate for e.g. – economists say investors favour stability. November 8, 20168:39 pm

The now-deleted tweet: November 8, 20168:36 pm

BREAKING NEWS: Trump’s son Eric posted a Tweet with a photo of his ballot AKA the controversial “ballot selfie” which is illegal in a number of states including NY. CBS reporting that he has deleted the tweet. November 8, 20168:30 pm

My buddy Brian McCann, a GOP ward captain and field organiser for the Trump campaign, took a few very valuable minutes away from GOTV efforts in Philly today to chat with me about the path to 270 electoral votes, political correctness and Trump’s lasting impact on conservative politics.

Take a listen here: November 8, 20168:26 pm

For those that haven’t heard, there is an operation out of the Balkans (of course) pumping out fake US news stories to try and attract lucrative website visitors:

You won’t be seeing any fakes on this thread, but just a caution if you are following at home. Not that much of the mainstream media is much better mind you. November 8, 20167:33 pm

BREAKING NEWS below, Trump campaign files lawsuit in Nevada over allegations of electoral fraud. Doubles down on his refusal to commit to accepting the result November 8, 20167:17 pm November 8, 20167:07 pm

There doesn’t seem to be any voter suppression going on here, despite some of the media “reports”:

But there was one Italian-American lady hastening her elderly mother to vote faster, with calls of “C’mon Ma”.

Not sure if that counts. November 8, 20167:04 pm

Very little activity here at the polling booth. Unlike Australia, I can confirm no sausage sizzle, but also no canvassers, ‘how to vote’ cards or protestors. All of the above could be considered a form of bribery and breach of electoral laws.

Instead, just some upstanding citizens quietly assisting with democracy’s most vital task. November 8, 20166:37 pm

A silent silhouette at Talmadge town centre in Ohio reminds locals of their constitutional right. November 8, 20165:26 pm

After midday on election day and the Clinton campaign is still fundraising! Below email just came through (for the record, I am not “one of [their] most committed supporters” but may or may not have posed as one to gain entry to an event once:

Look at the clock, Aleks — with only a few hours to go, we are so close to making history!

But it’s not over until it’s over — and right now, we absolutely must be able to make last-minute budget decisions and send resources to places where voters still need to be contacted.

Whenever I’ve come to this team with a request, you have never let me down. So I’m coming to you for the very last time — seriously, this is the last email from me before polls close.

Chip in for the first time to show Hillary you’re with her in the very last hours of this race and make sure this team has the critical resources it needs to cross the finish line.

You’re one of our most committed supporters. If you’ve saved your payment information, your donation will go through immediately.



Robby Mook

Campaign Manager

Hillary for America November 8, 20165:14 pm

Will be posting (and at times debunking) some of the more hyperbolic social media shenanigans going on. In this case, both inaccurate and very humorous, as so many memes are. (technically the Bushes never warned against Trump, they just haven’t publicly endorsed him). November 8, 20165:10 pm

Trump has posted a last ditch gotv appeal via Twitter (see below). Looks like budget is running low at the end of the campaign November 8, 20165:09 pm November 8, 20164:40 pm

While it also predicts Clinton will get to 270, the Washington Post, which has not always been kind to Trump (to put it mildly) has offered an interesting piece on the Republican ticket’s last best hope strategy: November 8, 20164:37 pm

About to check out some polling booths here in the Akron area of northwest Ohio, but first, some thoughts on the final day polls.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, who in 2012 accurately predicted the result in each of the 50 states and DC, says Clinton is the “71 per cent favorite” heading into election day, based on its “polls only model”.He predicts Hillary will easily get to the presidency, with 302 electoral college votes (remember, 270 is needed).

The vast majority of polls out in the last 24 hours also have Clinton in the lead, with the only two outliers beyond the LA Times poll and Investor’s Business Daily. November 8, 20164:26 pm

597 days after the first of the 2016 presidential hopefuls formally announced their candidacy the day of reckoning is finally upon us.

I remember watching Senator Ted Cruz of Texas give his fire and brimstone address from my North Sydney office, almost giddy with excitement about the adventure to come.

At that time, it was clear, the primaries would be hotly contested, with big names set to announce: Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, 17 of them in total. But at that moment the notion that it would be Donald Trump’s name on the ballot on Nov 8 was inconceivable.

That Hillary’s name would appear on the ballot was more likely. But back in that sunny Australian newsroom I could never have imagined that crusty, old socialist Bernie Sanders would put up a serious challenge.

American politics is a show like no other, and today is its constitutional curtain call. Bring it on. November 8, 20164:07 pm November 8, 20163:59 pm

Listent to my chat with Brendon O’Connor – no, not the Auckland Blues flanker but the Associate Professor at the US Studies Centre at Sydney Uni (and my former teacher). We discussed the growing influence of celebrity culture on politics, Anti-Americanism in Australia and, of course, today’s vote – including some thoughts on the often-overshadowed House and Senate races.

I pulled over to the side of the road in the deep Ohio countryside, while Dr O’Connor spoke to me from the backseat of a cab on his way to the Channel 7 studios in Sydney. So the quality is not perfect, but the analysis is second to none: November 8, 20163:53 pm
Russians, if you are reading this, please retrurn my previous live blog entries. Your beef is with the Clintons, not me.
In the meantime, if you want to view the posts from the past 48 hours and they are not appearing below, click here: November 8, 20169:14 am

Dear live blog followers,

Throughout this election campaign, cybersecurity has been an ongoing theme, from Hillary Clinton’s missing emails to Anthony Weiner’s discovered ones, Julian Assange’s threats and Vladimir Putin’s denials.

It seems I may also have now become the victim of such an attack.

As you may have already deduced, the content you have been thoroughly enjoying over the past 48 hours has disappeared. While I will admit I am technologically challenged, and there is the possibility human error is at play, it all just seems a little too coincidental.

In an ironic twist, I now have enhanced sympathy for Mrs Clinton.

I intend to resolve the matter ASAP and thank you for your support and patience.

Kind regards,


Update: access previous live blog entries here November 8, 20167:32 am

For more on the issue of celebrity culture and the US election check out

An important issue as we gear up for kanye2020 😉 November 8, 20167:20 am

Pulled over to the side of the road to speak to Brendon O’Connor. No, not the Auckland Blues flanker but the Associate Professor at the US Studies Centre at Sydney Uni.

Those following the election from Oz might know Brendon from the telly, where he is often interviewed on news programs as a US politics expert (in fact, he conducted this interview from a taxi on his way to the Channel 7 studios).

Check out our discussion on the growing influence of celebrity culture on politics, Anti-Americanism in Australia and, of course, tomorrow’s vote – including some thoughts on the often-shadowed House and Senate races.

(Warning: sound quality not perfect and some minor interruptions but quality of analysis more than makes up for it) November 8, 20167:00 am

Pulled over to the side of the road in the deep Ohio countryside, about to speak to Brendon O’Connor. No, not the Auckland Blues flanker but the Associate Professor at the (very awesome) US Studies Centre at Sydney Uni.

Those following the election in Oz might recognise Brendon’s voice from TV news, where he is often interviewed as a US politics expert (in fact, he spoke to me from a taxi on his way to Channel 7 studios).

Check out our discussion about the growing influence of celebrity culture in politics, Anti-Americanism in Australia and, of course, tomorrow’s vote – including the often-overlooked House and Senate races:

(Warning: Sound quality not perfect and some minor interruptions but quality of expert analysis more than makes up for it) November 8, 201612:56 am

In many ways Sarah Palin is an ideal surrogate for Trump. While she has become a laughing stock among many due to her perceived lack of intelligence and sophistication – and there is no doubt she was well out of her depth on some policy issues in 2008 – she is still held in very high esteem by the Republican base and with the suburban, white, “soccer mom” demographic especially, which Trump is struggling with.

She also provides evidence of the media bias and double standards that is a core issue for Trump, since she was destroyed by the media back in 2008 – many of whom now accuse critics of Hillary Clinton of sexism. November 8, 201612:53 am

Palin says we are “stupid” if we assume no electoral fraud going on tomorrow. Points to alleged cases of dead people voting, media collusion etc. Will be interesting to see whether this is a theme this time tomorrow. November 8, 201612:51 am

Watch Sarah Palin fire up the crowd below, talking about the choice voters face tomorrow and the idea of America at a crossroads: November 8, 201612:51 am
Watch Sarah Palin firing up the crowd on the choice voters face tomorrow and the idea of America at a crossroads. November 8, 201612:40 am

Watch Sarah Palin fire up the crowd below, talking about the choice voters face tomorrow and the idea of America at a crossroads: November 8, 201612:32 am

“Hillary represents a fake kind of feminism, where women have to be reliant on big daddy government…Women in America are not victims, we enjoy more freedoms and opportunities than women anywhere in the world.” – SP November 8, 201612:29 am

Says she thinks Trump will win: “Polls [poles] are only good for strippers and cross-country skiers”. November 8, 201612:27 am

“Trump has exposed the lies of the media – which I know first hand…I love that we now have citizen journalism which will make the mainstream, liberal, lapdog media redundant…[the media] disrespect our founding fathers and the men and women who died to defend the freedom of the press.” – SP November 8, 201612:25 am

“[Democrats] want us to believe that the ones to end the corruption should be the ones who did the corrupting. Do they think we are that stupid?” – SP November 8, 201612:24 am

“Two things made America great,” she says. “Work ethic – and expectation that reward will come from that work ethic – and development of natural resources, those that God put there for our responsible use. Washington, DC doesn’t understand either of these.” November 8, 201612:20 am

Sarah Palin finally arrives after a long day of appearances across the ‘buckeye state’. Opens with “Hello and thank you, you bunch of deplorables and rednecks!” Americans are not known for self-deprecation, but the crowd laughed at that one. November 7, 201610:49 pm

DJ announces he wants to play some “Hillary songs”. Crowd looks sceptical. Drops Jailhouse Rock. Major cheers and LOLs, needless to say November 7, 201610:45 pm

‘Born in the USA’ pumping through the speakers as we wait for Sarah Palin. Crowd digging it bigtime. Don’t want to spoil the fun by informing them Springsteen is campaigning for Hillary in Philly tonight November 7, 201610:41 pm

Biggest cheer comes as Ms Brooks announces Trump will repeal and replace Obamacare – a hot topic across the country as insurance premiums surge under the federal govt’s reforms November 7, 201610:39 pm

First candidate to address the rally is Republican candidate for county commissioner in these parts, Mollie Brooks. “We are Appalachians,” she says, in a reference to the nearby mountain range. “And we Appalachians resist change. But we need change and that change is Donald Trump” November 7, 201610:34 pm

“I’m proud to address a crowd that still believes in prayer…our nation is in trouble Lord….our families are disentegrating, as are our moral and spiritual roots,” the pastor warns. November 7, 201610:31 pm

Rally starts with pledge of allegiance, national anthem and an especially fiery prayer from a local pastor. Only in America November 7, 201610:03 pm

I’m at a barn in Zanesville, a small town in semi-rural central Ohio, where the trees are deep red and yellow, the houses weatherboard and displaying autumnal turkeys and pumpkins, and the roadsides dotted with ‘Make America Great Again’ signs.

Here to see a campaign stop from someone that on this day eight years ago would have been pretty busy: 2008 Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin.
The former Governor of Alaska will be memorable to anyone that saw Tina Fey’s skits from that time, but she was also one of Trump’s earliest public supporters, at a point in the campaign where few were taking him seriously. November 7, 20166:06 pm

Listen to my interview with Gunnar Hardy, CEO of Hardy Political Strategy Group, below as we discuss the electoral map, GOTV efforts and the so-called ‘silent majority‘ of Trump supporters November 7, 20165:28 pm

About to speak to my mate Gunnar to get his thoughts on tomorrow, he is a great analyst of American politics and has a lot of grassroots, Get Out the Vote (GOTV) experience.

The two of us worked together on a hard-fought and often hilarious campaign that will likely go down in Montana history. Particularly once our candidate Michael Burns becomes Governor of that great state.

See here for more on that crazy experience: November 7, 20165:14 pm

Hillary Clinton too is ramping up her appearances, usually doing fewer than her opponent but giving him a run on election eve. She is focusing on similar states – giving an indication of where to focus tomorrow night – with stops in Oakland, Pennsylvania and Allendale, Michigan before a blockbuster outdoor rally in Philly tonight alongside President and Michelle Obama, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi – again recruiting some celebrity talent. She will then host a midnight rally in North Carolina as election day commences.

Her surrogates meanwhile are all over the map, with running mate Tim Kaine in Virginia and NC, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden in Florida, President Obama in Michigan and New Hampshire and even Al Gore is making appearances in Colorado. November 7, 20164:52 pm

Whatever Donald Trump might be, you can’t accuse him of not being a hard worker. He has five separate appearances today starting in Sarasota in the must-win state of Florida, followed by Raleigh, NC; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Manchester, New Hampshire and Grand Rapids, Michigan. His stump map today indicates he is giving some majority blue states a good crack, obviously believing he can expand the traditional Republican voting base. Scranton, for e.g. (Joe Biden’s hometown) is a stronghold for ‘blue dogs’ (ie socially conservative Democrats, sometimes called ‘Reagan Democrats’).

A Republican hasn’t won either Michigan or Pennsylvania since Reagan himself in 1988, so its a bold play from the Trump campaign – but necessary if he is going to get to 270 electoral college votes (see below for explanation of electoral college) November 7, 20164:26 pm

Chants of “drain the swamp” and “lock her up” pervaded my dreams last night. Guess it is not only Americans that are experiencing election fatigue. November 7, 20167:36 am

However, my source also informs me there is surprisingly prominent and visible support for Trump in upstate NY today despite being one of the union’s more left-leaning states. Onya Greggy November 7, 20167:35 am

Meanwhile, one of my sources in the field has sent a photo from Phoenicia in upstate New York, where one vehicle owner has expressed his displeasure with Trump in a creative format. November 7, 20167:32 am

Listening to Trump over the sattelite radio at his next campaign stop in Virginia (another predominantly blue state he is giving a crack, along with Penn and Michigan). Despite praising James Comey just a week ago, he is now strongly criticising the FBI director’s decision to (once again) not pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton.

Fits neatly into his “the system is rigged” argument. His pledge to “drain the swamp” of Washington, DC gets more cheers than any other. Except maybe for building the wall and Mexico paying for it. November 7, 20164:13 am

Asked a few line dwellers what was gonna happen Tuesday, they are very optimistic. “Ain’t no way that bitch is gonna win,” one cigarette-smoking woman informs me, much to the delight of her section of the line. Others bust spontaneously into chants of ‘TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!’

The Clinton campaign is no doubt feeling buoyed by the news of the FBI matter. But momentum matters in politics and there is no doubting the enthusiasm here in Moon Township. November 7, 20164:08 am November 7, 20163:50 am

Truly incredible how many people are in this line. Numbers are not my strong point so I asked a cop. He said 20,000 was a “conservative estimate”. I told him that was an appropriate word for this crowd. He wasn’t amused. November 7, 20163:48 am

An Australian accent can go a long way in the US. But it seems the nation’s Secret Service is immune to the Antipodean charm offensive. Since I had been told in no uncertain terms, once again, that my media pass request had been “declined” (compare that to the Hillary campaign, where I get a text message saying ‘hello friend’ and links to helpful parking and directions info – no wonder the media is ‘with her’) I wasn’t expecting to breeze in, but it was worth a shot.

Angered a few people in the line that thought I was a pusher-inner-er. Going to go back to them now and explain myself, hopefully the accent has more luck making friends with these guys November 7, 20163:32 am

Started seeing people walking the other way and sure enough came to a roadblock of flashing cop cars. A stern-looking sheriff just informed me the event is full and they’re not letting anymore people in. I’m going to see whether I can smooth-talk my way in – like I did at Obama’s rally in Ohio last week – or at least get a closer look at the crowd. November 7, 20163:29 am

Donald J Trump for President rally, Moon, Pennsylvania

The parked trucks and utes started appearing about three miles out from the airport where Trump was due to speak, and the sea of people shortly thereafter. Among the tattooed hillbillies and mustachioed rednecks usually depicted by the press as Trump fans, are many families, elderly folks and a noticeable – and perhaps surprising – number of young women.

Most are decked out in Trump merchandise and giggling excitably like they were on an outing to the country fair. November 7, 20161:11 am

News just in that FBI director James Comey made an announcement, just a few minutes before HRC and LeBron were due to speak in Cleveland, that the bureau was standing by its initial decision from July that while there was “evidence [Mrs Clinton was] extremely careless in the handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” that it would not be pursuing an indictment or criminal charges against the candidate.

In other words, the whole media frenzy ( sparked by Mr Comey’s letter to Members of Congress last Friday was seemingly a puff of hot air.

Well, at least it gave as another opportunity for Anthony Weiner headline puns. November 6, 201610:36 pm

Now onwards to try to catch Trump speak at an airport hangar over the border in Pennsylvania. The place is called “Moon Township”.

Very appropriate campaign stop for an election that has often been ‘out of this world’. November 6, 201610:34 pm

Way less policy detail than usual, all up remarks less than twenty minutes. Possibly due to having a tighter schedule at this pointy end of the campaign or maybe a strategic calculation that in the final days its too late for policy specifics and need to double down on central messaging, which is that she is a positive, steady hand and he is a negative loose cannon. November 6, 201610:29 pm

Goes relatively easy on The Donald: “My vision is different from that of my opponent…I don’t need to list all of the people he has insulted and demeaned here. But his vision is divisive. I believe in the American people…”

Big contrast to the speeches being given by Presidents Clinton and Obama on the campaign trail, both going aggressively after Trump and reminding voters of specific faux pas.

“…America is great because America is good.” – subtle refutation of Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan. November 6, 201610:25 pm

“We need to teach children that they may not all become basketball champions but they should have the chance to go as far as their talent and hard work will take them…”

Segues to regular campaign stump speech.

“Are you ready to vote?…(‘YES’, the crowd roars, hooting and hollering)…”As president, I want to build on what I’ve done my whole life – fighting for kids and families…I will be on your side, I will fight for you…” November 6, 201610:21 pm

Hillary takes the mic, thanks LeBron, thanks the crowd. Voice sounds much less strained than it did on the TV last night. Singles out LeBron’s charity work in particular.

“I am just so impressed with LeBron James, not just for his efforts on the basketball court but for his incredible work off the court with children, and with caring for children as if they were his own” – HRC November 6, 201610:16 pm

“I’m sure you don’t wanna hear from me and would much rather hear from the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton”…

(massive applause, hands mic over to HRC). All in all less than a minute from LeBron, but he did his job, getting people to the room and getting them fired up for Hillary’s speech. November 6, 201610:14 pm

LeBron briefly mentions Hillary’s commitment to children, also a passion of his with the LeBron James Foundation.

(hopefully fewer pending investigations than the Clinton Foundation ;)) November 6, 201610:12 pm

“…You need to get out and vote. I grew up in the Inner City – in a community that didn’t believe their vote counts. But it does, it really does.” November 6, 201610:11 pm

“I believe this woman will be an excellent President of the United States,” says Lebron November 6, 201610:09 pm November 6, 201610:08 pm

Thumping Top 40 pop music interrupted by the PA system:

“Please welcome Mr Lebron James and the next president of the United States, Mrs Hillary Clinton”… November 6, 20169:30 pm

Solid crowd here, maybe a thousand or so, certainly more than at Hillary’s last Cleveland rally. Might have something to do with the fact it’s a Sunday’s and that was a weekday but I suspect it has more to do with the special guest.

There would probably be even more people but the Cleveland Browns NFL team are playing right now across the road.

Bad campaign scheduling and even worse Wifi. Heads will roll. November 6, 20168:33 pm

Hillary Clinton has been appearing alongside some blockbuster names in the last week, from J-Lo to Katy Perry to Jon Bon Jovi. Two nights ago, Jay-Z and Beyonce performed a free concert here in Cleveland in an effort to mobilise independents and Millennials – many of whom favoured Bernie Sanders and hold a grudge against the Clinton campaign over allegations the DNC rigged the primary in her favour.

But around these parts, not even rap royalty can compare to the superstar about to appear on stage here at the Cleveland Public Auditorium on the shores of Lake Eyrie: King James himself.

Having led the Cavs to a fairytale NBA championship earlier this year, it’s hard to imagine a more popular Ohioan than Akron native Le Bron James. Will be interesting to see if he’s as effective a campaign surrogate as he is a basketballer. November 6, 20168:15 pm

The folks at Spirit Airlines have a pretty crafty marketing ploy for their latest sale:

“ESCAPE THE ELECTION”, a big yellow billboard invites commuters on Interstate 77, assessing – correctly – that many Ohioans (and Americans) are suffering a bad case of political fatigue right now. November 6, 20166:48 pm

Now off to Cleveland for a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) rally with Hillary Clinton and a very special guest. November 6, 20166:12 pm

Electoral College 101

About to head out for a very long day on the campaign trail, but for those who are following from overseas or don’t remember their school govt lessons, I thought it might be helpful to recap how the presidential electoral system works:

As set out in the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution, citizens in the US do NOT directly vote for a President and VP, but instead vote to elect “electors” to represent their state in the national “Electoral College”
– The members of the Electoral College then officially cast the votes of their respective states for President and VP
– People are nominated to become electors by party members and supporters at the national conventions of the major parties (which were held in July-August following the completion of the primary elections)
– Each state’s number of electors is equal to the total number of Members of Congress (i.e. size dependent on size of population, bigger states have larger electoral colleges)
– Electors are pledged to vote for the nominee of their party but, technically, they could betray the pledge and vote against their own party if they chose. (These electors are called ‘faithless electors’ and are very rare)
– The group of electors (i.e. Republican or Democrat) that wins the popular vote (i.e. receives more votes) in each state is then appointed as that state’s representative team to the Electoral College.
– In 48 states (all except Maine and Nebraska) whichever side wins the popular vote in that state takes all electoral votes for that state.
– There are 538 members of the Electoral College in total and you need a majority to win, meaning whichever candidate gets to 270 electoral college votes wins the presidency.

– Therefore, you could actually receive more votes nationwide but lose the election (this is not uncommon).

Source: Max McGuinness’s homework, Green High School, Ohio, November 2016

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