Here’s a look at five key points in Clinton’s race that offer clues about what will happen as the campaign ends.
EARLY VOTE VALUE
It was late on the night of the kickoff Iowa caucuses when Clinton took the stage before supporters in Des Moines and said: “I stand here tonight, breathing a big sigh of relief.”
Faced with a late surge in momentum for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in a state that has never fully warmed to her, Clinton barely eked out a win in the leadoff event of the 2016 campaign. She beat Sanders by less than three-tenths of 1 percent.
While the close finish gave supporters the jitters, it did not upend the race – which a loss to Sanders would have.
How did she do it?
Clinton invested heavily in a formidable voter targeting and get-out-the-vote effort in Iowa. She spent millions to create a similarly robust voter turnout operation nationwide, with a focus on the country’s battleground states.
She and her team were unquestionably confident in the race’s final days, and that turnout machine is perhaps the biggest reason why.
It took Clinton until June to officially wrap up the Democratic primary against a surprisingly robust challenge from Sanders.
But the contest was effectively decided on Super Tuesday when African-American voters gave Clinton a huge advantage. In seven of the Southern states voting that day, Clinton got more than 8 in 10 black votes.
Early voting figures ahead of Election Day show black voters are not turning out at the same levels as in 2012, when they helped deliver President Barack Obama a second term. Campaigning for Clinton, Obama appealed directly to African Americans, arguing she would continue his agenda while Trump would overturn it.
Speaking to voters in North Carolina recently, Obama did not temper his anxiety: “The fate of the Republic rests on your shoulders.”
It was a tender moment for Clinton. At a meeting with Latino activists in Las Vegas in February, a young girl told her about her fears her parents would be deported.
Hugging the child, Clinton said: “Let me do the worrying.” Her campaign quickly turned the moment into an emotional campaign ad.
Clinton has never stepped back from backing an immigration system overhaul, including plans to create a pathway to full citizenship for people living in the country illegally.
It was among her most stark contrasts with Trump.
Democrats have been encouraged by a strong early vote turnout from Latinos in Florida and Nevada, and Clinton’s embrace of the issue could help make Latinos a key part of a potential winning coalition.
A single night in New York City days before the state’s primary laid bare the difference between Clinton and Sanders.
Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist, held an event in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park that his campaign said drew 27,000 people. At the same time, Clinton rallied about 1,300 supporters at a community center in the Bronx.
While Clinton went on to decisively win the primary, the contrasting crowd sizes exposed a weakness – her difficulty in exciting young voters. They flocked to Sanders’ more liberal message, which included moving the country onto a single-payer health care system and free tuition at public universities.
Since she became the nominee, Clinton has aggressively wooed millennials, visiting millennial-owned businesses and campaigning with celebrities.
THOSE DAMN EMAILS
Before she even officially declared her candidacy for president, Clinton had to step before reporters to try and explain why she’d used a private email server while serving as secretary of state.
It took Clinton months to come to terms with how damaging the email issue had become to her candidacy.
In the race’s final moment, FBI said it had found new emails on the laptop of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Nine days later, and just two days before Election Day, the FBI said it hadn’t found anything worth looking at.
But it was one final email mess, and should Clinton lose, many will point to her decision to use the private email system as the reason so many voters distrusted her and turned to Trump.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.