Experts hedge bets as election tightens
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The gap between Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump's economic approval takes hit in battleground states: poll This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's re-election The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE continues to narrow as the candidates jet around the country in the final frenzy before Election Day.

Clinton is relying on star power provided by LeBron James, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and others, while Trump forges ahead with his incursion into blue states.

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Tens of millions have already cast their ballots, with election experts predicting that 40 percent of the voting population will have voted before Tuesday.

Here’s what to watch for as the remaining 60 percent head to the polls:

Experts hedge bets

Not so fast.

Less than a month ago, it was a foregone conclusion among many election modelers and forecasters that Clinton was on pace for a resounding Electoral College victory.

Now, those same forecasters are hedging their bets, acknowledging there is a greater likelihood that Trump could pull off a Nov. 8 shocker.

Influential election forecaster Charlie Cook, who only one month ago tweeted that “the race is OVER” with Trump headed for defeat, revised his assessment on Saturday, acknowledging that “the race is in a different place than 8 or 9 days ago when there was virtually no path for Trump.”

The model run by data guru Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 65 percent chance of winning and Trump a 35 percent chance. That’s down from Clinton’s high — achieved less than three weeks ago, on Oct. 17 — when she had an 88 percent chance of victory, compared to only 12 percent for Trump.

And CNN’s model, which once had Clinton surpassing the 270 Electoral College votes necessary for victory, dropped the Democratic presidential nominee below that threshold on Friday, moving New Hampshire out of her column and back into toss-up territory.

Clinton is still the favorite in all of the models.

Cook noted that he still believes Trump’s chances of victory are “fairly small.”

Silver’s model has Clinton winning 290 electoral votes. In 2012, President Obama cruised to victory with 332 electoral votes, against 206 for then-GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In CNN’s model, Clinton needs only to win one of six remaining battleground states to achieve victory, while Trump, the Republican nominee, would have to run the board.

But election modelers are fine-tuning their assumptions to reflect Trump's gains, as the race has tightened dramatically in the final hours before Election Day.

Clinton’s FBI and email troubles have sent Republicans rallying behind Trump, and the GOP nominee has capitalized by staying on script and avoiding unnecessary controversies.

A flurry of polls coming out of states where Clinton once appeared safe — New Hampshire and Pennsylvania among them — have Democrats sweating the outcome.

Real-life bettors are also directing more cash toward Trump.

The Irish bookmaker Paddy Power said Tuesday that 91 percent of the bets it took in over a 48-hour period this week were laid behind the GOP nominee.

For Clinton, Election Day cannot come soon enough.

Trump roams far and wide

Mornings in the east. Nights out west. A heavy dose of blue states and an unexpected stop in Minnesota.

Trump is confounding the experts with a final push that will either prove to be genius or a reflection of his campaign’s desperation.

Lacking a concise path to the White House, Trump and his small band of surrogates are fanning out in hopes of landing an unexpected prize.

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump: House Judiciary should investigate Obama Netflix deal instead of his business Farm manager doubts story horse bit Pence: report Supreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration MORE and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) will swing through Michigan over the weekend, where Clinton holds about a 5-point lead and a Republican has not won since 1988. Pence will also hold court in Virginia, which is believed to be safely in Clinton’s column.

Both Trump and Pence will hold rallies in Wisconsin, where Clinton leads by 6 points in the last two polls and a Republican has not won in more than 30 years.

Trump will spend Saturday and Sunday in Pennsylvania, which suddenly looks like his best shot at picking off a blue state.

Together, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania represent Trump’s Rust Belt strategy and a test of how far his brand of national populism and anti-trade rhetoric will carry him.

Trump will also campaign in Iowa, another traditionally blue state where he once led comfortably, but some polls have pegged it as a toss-up.

And Trump claims he’ll touch down in Minnesota — a state that has not been on anyone’s radar. The North Star State joined 49 other states in backing former Republican President Richard Nixon in 1972 but has gone for the Democrat in every election since.

Meanwhile, Trump surrogates Ben Carson and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will look to shore up Trump’s support in Arizona. They’ll also make stops in Nevada, which some experts believe is already in the bag for Clinton based on early voting.

Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHouse Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe McCabe's counsel presses US attorney on whether grand jury decided not to indict US attorney recommends moving forward with charges against McCabe after DOJ rejects his appeal MORE (R-Ala.) will visit Maine on Sunday as Trump seeks to wring an electoral vote out of the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

Trump has a far smaller network of surrogates than Clinton, who in the final days has the luxury of supplementing her thinner campaign schedule with Democratic heavyweights like President Obama, first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaTrump: House Judiciary should investigate Obama Netflix deal instead of his business 2020 is not a family affair, for a change Former speechwriter says Michelle Obama came up with 'when they go low we go high' line MORE, Vice President Biden, and Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Top Sanders adviser: 'He is a little bit angry' Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE (I-Vt.), as well as a host of pop icons.

Whatever the outcome, Trump’s critics won’t be able to accuse him of coasting.

On Saturday, Trump began the day in Florida at 10 a.m. He touched down for a rally in Wilmington, N.C., at 1 p.m., had a break before an 8 p.m. gig in Reno, Nev., where he briefly left the stage amid a security scare, and closed out the night at a rally in Denver.

Hispanic turnout calms Democratic nerves

Democrats are more than a little freaked out by the closeness of the polls. Some are worried that the extreme volatility in the race could produce the nightmare scenario of a Trump victory on Tuesday.

But they are soothed by data that shows a spike in early voting among Hispanics and believe it will be enough to help them weather Trump’s late surge.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook made the case to reporters in a Friday conference call that early voting among Hispanics has already put Florida, Nevada and North Carolina out of reach for Trump.


The GOP nominee must win all of those states to have a realistic shot at the White House.

In Florida, more Hispanics have already voted than did in all of 2012.

In Nevada, political expert Jon Ralston says that early voting among Hispanics may have already boosted Clinton to an insurmountable lead.

And in North Carolina, the Clinton campaign is arguing that Hispanics have made up for the decline in early voting among African-Americans.

High-profile Clinton surrogates from President Obama to LeBron James are hitting the trail in hopes of energizing the black voters that may be considering staying home in 2016.

But liberals are hopeful that Trump’s rhetoric toward Hispanics will doom him even before Election Day arrives.