Road to the White House: How the US election between Trump and Clinton plays out in a battleground state

By Chris Reed

Business is brisk at the early voting station in Canton, Ohio, three days out from the election.

Both major parties have made huge efforts to people out early in a bid to stave off apathy.

A Washington Post report on Saturday night said more than 40 million people had already had their say, almost a third of the total number of voters four years ago.

Friday saw a single-day record number of early voters in Canton. Votes count here. This is Stark County, a battleground county in a battleground state, widely regarded as a classic bellwether.

It's changed parties five times since 1960. The outcome here has echoed the national winner 11 times in the last 14 elections.

270towin.com's average of the last five polls in Ohio has Trump three percentage points ahead, although the latest data was from Nov 2.

Less than a week is an eternity at this point in US politics.

A desperately unscientific straw poll of 12 voters - six men, six women - outside the early voting station in Canton provides a 7-5 split in favour of Hillary Clinton.

All six women have voted Democrat. The only man who isn't backing Trump is African American.

Crystal Johnson: "I like her opinion on most issues. I also love the fact that she's a female and she had the guts to go for it. That was encouraging to me."

Kara Fallucco: "At first (I decided to vote for her) just because she's a woman but then I really saw how intelligent she was. I really think that she's the reason that Bill Clinton became governor and president and I think she'll do a great job."

Ingrid Beard is part of a strong Democratic family. She believes that Clinton's gender has changed some allegiances in Stark County.

"I know Democrats that have changed their vote and I know some that have switched the other way.

"It's bad to say, men versus women, the female getting into office, I don't think people are quite ready for it. I think it's going to happen but I don't think they're ready for it."

Republican voters cited several reasons for backing Trump: Clinton's desire for more gun control, Trump's stance against abortion, insurance hikes under Obamacare.

Frank Andler: "I feel the Democrats are trying to take away my rights, my religious rights, the gun rights. I'm not voting for Trump, I'm voting against the Democrats."

Martin Warther at the Stark County Board of Elections office in Canton, Ohio. Photo / Chris Reed
Martin Warther at the Stark County Board of Elections office in Canton, Ohio. Photo / Chris Reed

Martin Warther: "Our country is getting out of control, globalism, we're losing our sovereignty. If we don't get it back soon we're never going to get it back."

Warther says his vote was against corruption "in government generally, the Democrats specifically. They just got caught first that's all."

He's confident Trump wouldn't fall into the same trap.

"He's an outsider. He's a businessman and he's not a career politician and he's not tied in with all the cronyism in the political system. He's out to get the country right again, I truly believe that. I've done my research."

If Hillary's gender is one determinant of how Stark will vote this year, the economy is likely another.

Voter responses suggested that, broadly, rural communities are more likely to vote Trump, as is the case in fellow swing states North Carolina and Florida.

Certainly at properties on the rural roads around Canton - in Stark County and further east - Trump signs proliferate. Some are flash, some look barely habitable.

But as it is across the US, the manufacturing sector in Stark is struggling and there may be many a blue collar worker tempted to try Trump.

Warther: "I can't think of a segment of the community that hasn't been let down the last eight years. And they're looking for a change, a real change this time."

• Chris Reed travelled to the US with assistance of the US embassy in New Zealand.

Pro-Trump billboard in Canton, Ohio. Photo / Chris Reed
Pro-Trump billboard in Canton, Ohio. Photo / Chris Reed

- NZ Herald

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