The Race Is On
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump try to win over voters.
Election Day is November 8—just two months away—and the U.S. presidential race is in high gear. Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are making speeches, running TV ads, and posting messages on social media sites like Twitter as they try to win over enough voters to claim the White House.
The race for the White House is very tight. Most current national polls (surveys of people’s opinions or beliefs) show Clinton with a narrow lead over Trump, by an average of about 3 percentage points. That number has been getting smaller recently, as Clinton led in polls by about 8 percentage points in late July.
One reason the race is so tight is that both Trump and Clinton have had a hard time winning the support of undecided voters. A large number of people remain uncertain about whom to support, which is unusual at this point in a presidential race. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center found that around 1 in 5 voters are either undecided or looking at third-party candidates (candidates from any U.S. political party other than the Democratic and Republican parties). That’s much higher than the portion of undecided voters seen in most recent presidential races. During those campaigns, fewer than 1 in 10 voters were still unsure two months before the election.
There are several third-party candidates in the race. The two best known are Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party. Historically, third-party candidates have done poorly in presidential races. One big reason is that they don’t have nearly as much money to spend on their campaigns as Democrats and Republicans do. However, they could take away enough voters from the other candidates to have an effect on the race.
Many undecided voters will cast their ballots based on what they see and hear in the presidential debates, which are scheduled for September 26, October 9, and October 19. A vice presidential debate will take place on October 4.
“I do think both candidates have a lot riding on the debates,” says Brandon Rottinghaus, an expert on politics at the University of Houston. He says that for the candidates, the debates are “a chance to . . . show in a visual way that they can handle the job of being president.”