The Great November Tightening

Polls change. That’s what they do, and that’s why they’re conducted so often — to provide at least a hint of what’s to come.

For weeks following the final presidential debate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had appeared a political juggernaut, barreling unstoppable toward the presidency while Trump futilely foundered.

And then, the FBI opened its big, fat mouth and, at first glance, seemed to vindicate all the criminal maleficence that Clinton has been accused of since the campaign began a year and a half ago.

Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is in a much tighter race. (Image from Time)

What the letter FBI director James Comey sent to Congress was rather opaque. The FBI investigation into Clinton’s controversial use of a private e-mail server during her time as secretary of state had been closed, and though chided for using “extremely poor judgement,” it did not appear that Clinton had technically done anything criminal.

And then some e-mails turned up in a separate investigation into former congressman and certifiable creep Anthony Weiner, who had until recently been married to one of Clinton’s closest confidantes.

The e-mails weren’t from Clinton, nor were they to Clinton. Nor was the FBI reopening their investigation of Clinton. But nonetheless, the words “Clinton,” “E-mails” and “FBI” were back in the headlines again, just as early voting was beginning nationwide and the campaign itself was finally coming down the homestretch.

The truth is, though, this is often what campaigns do toward the end. People start making up their minds. They begin to settle. And once-great leads tend to dwindle as people become hesitant to jump on the bandwagon of the leading candidate — often for no other reason than just to be contrary or to be able to take the “don’t blame me, I voted for the other guy” view once the election’s over.

So yes, the e-mail investigation has hurt Clinton. But so has the calendar. This likely only means Clinton’s apparent landslide from a week ago will be a bit more modest in its scope.

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