Essay from America: Day of truth for the divided states of America

At the Rockefeller Centre in midtown Manhattan, the resident NBC news station has completed its traditional election night take-over of the ice rink and covered it with a giant map of the states that will light up blue or red as each result is declared.

Essay from America: Day of truth for the divided states of America

It allows the presenters all manner of jokes about candidates being on thin ice, falling flat, and performing death spirals.

All over the city, bars and restaurants are adopting election night themes, creating Donald and Hillary cocktails and nursing customers through the long night with prizes for the most accurate poll predictions.

After all that’s gone on during the election campaign, a little humour seems the least the public deserve.

However, it can’t dilute the venom that has been spewed over the airwaves, around rallies and across neighbourhoods this past 18 months.

And it can’t mask the fact that there’s poison in the bloodstream of politics now that could take years to suck out.

Trump Tower yesterday was a microcosm of the rancour that has run through the campaign.

“Fuck Trump,” yelled a man holding a ‘Vladimir Putin for Vice-President’ poster.

“Lock her up — she’s married to a rapist,” shouted a woman, occasionally bursting into country and western song.

Another man’s banner said ‘Sexual Predators for Trump’ to the confusion of some passers-by who wondered whose side he was on.

“Drain the Swamp,” said another waved on by a woman in so many Trump badges there was no doubt who had her vote.

While they jammed the pavement outside Trump Tower, the candidates were cramming their final moments of campaigning in a last desperate dash of their no-rules race to the White House, Ms Clinton taking in at least five stops in three states ending with a midnight rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Mr Trump covering at least five states, ending close to midnight in Michigan.

If it’s an indication of where the battle will be lost and won, both candidates had Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Michigan on their itineraries, while Mr Trump added in Florida — crucial to his efforts — and New Hampshire.

Just four percentage points separated the two in the latest polls yesterday, Ms Clinton still holding that slim lead and looking like the most mathematically likely to succeed but Mr Trump carrying that most deadly weapon — surprise.

He was a surprise candidate with a surprise popularity and a surprising resilience to the self-generated scandals that would have scuppered many other challengers.

If there are surprises tonight, they should be known by 1am Irish time, when the polls will be completed in roughly half the states, including the swing states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

Mr Trump is acting like it’s all over bar the cheering. He has scheduled his ‘Victory Party’ for the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, New York, for 6.30pm.

Ms Clinton has her ‘Election Night Event’ at the Jacob K Javits Convention Centre further downtown in the old Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood.

One of them will leave their venue as the 45th president of the United States.

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