US election snapshot: Asian turnout increases in early voting

A daily roundup of the top news items about the race for the White House compiled by South China Morning Post reporters on the campaign trail

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 November, 2016, 8:08am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 November, 2016, 8:41am
Asian focus: Early Asian vote up slightly, but black turnout low so far

Asian American turnout in early voting has been slightly boosted this year, according to several academic and media analyses.

The collective category of mixed-race, Asian and other-race voters accounted for 209,000 ballots after the first full weekend of in-person early voting ended Sunday. That is already three quarters of the entire 2012 early-voting total.

But the development that has been more widely noted in US media is the low turnout so far among African-Americans, who had cast 421,000 early and absentee ballots as of Monday morning, accounting for only 55 per cent of the total such ballots that black voters cast in 2012, according to an analysis by Associated Industries of Florida, a conservative-leaning business group. Black voters turned out in force in 2008 and 2012 to help elect Barack Obama as the first African American US president.

On the other hand, there has been off-the-charts enthusiasm among Hispanic voters this election. As of Monday morning, Hispanics had cast more than 507,000 ballots by mail and in-person early votes, equivalent to 97 per cent of the total combined early ballots that Hispanics cast in the entire 2012 election.

Hispanics have expressed a strong tendency to favour Democrat Hillary Clinton, amid Republican Donald Trump’s threats to deport illegal immigrants en masse and build a wall on the border with Mexico.

Obama criticises FBI chief over email disclosure ‘innuendo’

In an unusual move, US President Barack Obama has criticised FBI director James Comey’s revelation about the ongoing investigation of emails related to Hillary Clinton’s private email server so close to the election, suggesting the decision was based on “innuendo” and it had triggered a “political controversy”.

Comey on Friday made public that his bureau has been analysing emails belonging to Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin while investigating her estranged husband in an unrelated sexting case, doing so over the objection of the Department of Justice.

Obama denied he was meddling in “what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments”.

On Monday, the FBI unexpectedly released 129 pages of documents related to an old investigation into former president Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of Marc Rich, ex-husband of a wealthy Democratic donor, on the last day of his presidency in 2001.

The investigation closed in 2005 without charges. Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon described the timing of the release as “odd”.

Obama joined Hillary Clinton’s rally in North Carolina on Wednesday, hoping to motivate African American voters in the important swing state. Low turnout of African Americans in early voting has worried the president, who appealed to the black community and millennials in the state, which he lost in 2012, to support Clinton.

Obama was set to continue campaigning in Florida, a swing state whose result may be decisive to the election, in what will probably be the last big campaign in his political career.

Battling over ‘blue states’

Wednesday’s CNN/ORN poll reveals a tight race in some critical swing states, with Trump showing strength in Arizona and Nevada, while Clinton leads with small margins in Pennsylvania and Florida.

As Clinton’s lead in polls as quickly receded in recent days, her campaign has doubled spending in advertising in pro-Democratic states to reinforce its traditional strongholds.

Trump, meanwhile, is also cranking up his campaign in the traditionally Democratic “blue states” of Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, while going all out in must-win Florida and North Carolina.

Early voting has shown the Republican doing better than Mitt Romney did in 2012 elections in Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio, while Clinton is performing well in Colorado and Arizona (in contrast to latest polling).