The timing could not have been worse. Close on the heels of the United States presidential elections, FBI boss James Comey announced that his agents are reviewing a newly discovered trove of emails, reviving an issue that the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had hoped was behind her.
However, there are really no signs that the new FBI investigation will be completed any time soon and experts do not expect Hillary to face charges regarding the use of personal email accounts on a non-government, privately maintained server, instead of email accounts maintained on federal government servers, when conducting official business as secretary of state.
But it’s never a good thing for a presidential hopeful to go into Election Day with allegations looming over the head. (The FBI had earlier said that a criminal charge would be unfair without evidence of intent or cover up.)
Meanwhile, not the one to be unfazed and almost appearing to be determined to become President of the United States, Hillary told a packed LGBT rally at a gay nightclub in Wilton Manors after Comey’s announcement - “When you`re knocked down, what matters is whether you get up again.”
Though, she did add that it was “pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election.” For the record she has also apologised for her so-called ‘mistakes’ and has maintained that she did not send or receive any emails from her personal server that were confidential at the time they were sent.
She did say in a Democratic debate with Bernie Sanders on February 4, 2016 – “I never sent or received any classified material, they are retroactively classifying it.” Thus, in one of the most bitterly fought elections in the history of the US, will Hillary be able to trounce her rival and Republican nominee Donald Trump and overcome the allegations of ‘putting the country at risk’ among other criticisms and become the first women to occupy the White House is something that the whole world is waiting to know.
Whatever the skeletons in her cupboard may be, and her slate is definitely not clean for sure (for example she has hit the headlines for allegedly infamous deals done through the Clinton Foundation), one thing that most would agree upon that Hillary is a ‘fighter’ and as US president Barack Obama said in his Democratic convention speech, she ‘never gives up’.
When she lost the race to be the Democratic presidential candidate to Obama eight years back and after she accepted the position of US secretary of state, not many thought that she would make a comeback and become the leading contender for one of the most powerful and coveted jobs in the world.
However, even though Trump, may be in the news for his comments against the Muslims and though he may be under fire for alleged sexual impropriety and facing misconduct allegations from more than a dozen women, none of the earlier opinion polls showed Hillary winning hands down.
This may be due to the fact both are said to be two of the most unpopular people to be in the race for the White House, unpopular both within their own parties and among the public at large.
Sample this – many big Republicans names have refused to endorse Trump, while another study showed that just over half of Bernie Sanders' supporters would back Hillary. On the other hand, a New York Times and CBS News poll has revealed that the two candidates' popularity was limited by the public's lack of trust in both of them - just 33 percent of Americans view Hillary as honest and trustworthy and 35 percent think the same of Trump.
Also, in that poll, 57 percent of people had said that they didn’t share Clinton's values and 62 percent had said that same about Trump.
To quote Joseph Lake, director of Global Forecasting at The Economist Intelligence Unit, Hillary is expected to win the election because Trump is even more unpopular than her. He said - “We have called it the unpopularity contest. These are two extremely unpopular candidates. They are much more unpopular than candidates in past elections.”
On the other hand, the 70-year-old tycoon has repeatedly described Hillary’s email issue as ‘the single biggest scandal since Watergate’ (the matter that brought down Republican president Richard Nixon in 1974).
Significantly, Trump was shown to be as many as 14 points behind Clinton in some polls before the latest email scandal. But days after the FBI announced that it was revisiting its investigation into her use of private email server, a national poll of polls put Hillary just 2.2 points ahead of Trump.
The flip side is that Hillary has been ahead almost continuously in Telegraph's poll of polls (it takes an average of the last five polls published on RealClearPolitics.)
To be noted is the fact that according to Nate Silver's forecast at FiveThirtyEight, Clinton has an 85 per cent chance of winning the popular vote, but only a 75 per cent chance of winning the Electoral College.
Further, in order to beat Trump to the finishing line, Hillary will have to beat a few odds, apart from the FBI investigation. For example, it remains to be seen whether after choosing a Democrat as president for two terms, will the people of US switch for the other party.
The last time the same party won three elections in a row was with the Republican party nearly 30 years ago when George HW Bush had followed Ronald Reagan. And before that it wasn’t till Franklin D Roosevelt in 1940.
Significantly, Hillary is an ‘establishment’ candidate. As an ‘establishment’ candidate, she has to ward off criticisms regarding the economy, which remains sluggish and the income growth, which has been low. (As per a data, almost 50 million Americans live in poverty and tens of millions suffer from acute hunger).
And then there are the allegations of government and businesses from all over the world pumping money into the Clinton Foundation in order to get access to US secretary of state.
Moreover, age, race, gender and education are said to be big dividing points in the presidential race. As per some polls a large chunk of men and whites may back Trump, while majority of women and ethnic minorities are likely to support Hillary.
On the other hand, another poll showed that only 17 percent of Hispanics and three percent of black people may back Trump. Coming to education, according to a survey, among high school graduates or those with a lower level of education, Trump has the backing of 44 percent and Hillary has the support of 36 percent.
Also, various reports have said that the swing states are Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, Missouri and North Carolina.
Plus, a key battleground could be Pennsylvania, which has voted for a Democratic candidate for the past six elections but with narrow margins. Most of these same states decided as to who would win the 2012 election between Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
It can be recalled that Hillary did face a strong challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders, whose longtime stance against the influence of corporations and the wealthy in American politics found resonance with the people. But by campaign's end, she had won 2,219 pledged delegates to Sanders' 1,832 and an estimated 594 super-delegates compared to Sanders' 47.
At the same time, she received almost 17 million votes during the nominating process, as opposed to Sanders' 13 million.
The pertinent question is can she do the same and create history and walk into the Oval Office.
As part of her campaign, Hillary has emphasised, among other things, on raising incomes, an infrastructure package highlighting job creation, criminal justice reform, and immigration legislation and expanding and protecting LGBT and women's rights. She has backed instituting family support through paid parental leave and universal preschool. Her website has nearly 40 pages outlining policy positions and an additional fact sheets for every proposal.
Will all of the above cut ice with the Americans and is America, in words of First Lady Michelle Obama, ‘absolutely ready’ to accept Hillary as the commander-in-chief? The answer – Coming soon…