The latest 2016 presidential polls have shown Hillary Clinton in command of the race, extending her lead over Donald Trump and rolling toward what appears to be a landslide victory.
That dynamic could now be at risk, with a bombshell announcement on Friday that the FBI would be adding a new batch of emails to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized private email server — an investigation that was publicly closed in July. Trump and his allies seized on the announcement, painting Clinton as a criminal and saying that the revelation could turn the race back to Trump.
It seems unlikely that will happen, however, with Clinton building a big lead through early voting and already weathering several other email-related hits to her campaign.
The flap started late on Friday afternoon, a day and time where news is traditionally released with the hope of being ignored. FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter to congressional lawmakers notifying them that the FBI would be reviewing a new batch of emails connected to Hillary Clinton. Although some news outlets initially reported that the FBI had re-opened the investigation, Comey did not use that language in his letter to Congress.
“I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation,” he wrote (via CNN).
The Clinton campaign was rocked by Friday’s revelation, with Comey’s letter taking them literally by surprise. Reporters covering the Clinton campaign noted that her plane was in the air and without Wi-Fi access when the letter was made public, meaning Clinton learned about it after it had already made the news.
In an impromptu press conference in Des Moines, Iowa, Clinton said she was confident the new findings would not affect the FBI’s July conclusion that her actions did not warrant charges. She called on the FBI to further explain the issue and explain what the emails entail.
“Voting is underway, so the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately,” Clinton said, adding that it was “imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay.”
Donald Trump seized on the revelation as well, telling a rally in New Hampshire that Clinton was a “criminal.”
“Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we’ve never seen before,” he said (via CNN). “We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”
Although Trump will be pushing hard on this line of attack, it’s likely not to take too big of a chunk out of Hillary Clinton’s lead. The latest 2016 presidential polls do not reflect the FBI’s new investigation, but previous investigation-related revelations have done little to slow Clinton’s momentum.
Twice last summer, there were major events that dealt a blow to Clinton — a May report from the State Department’s Inspector General that blasted her use of private email and the announcement in early July from the FBI that Clinton acted recklessly but would not be facing charges. Each time, polls barely budged away from Hillary Clinton or in favor of Donald Trump.
As many political analysts have pointed out, voter opinion about Hillary Clinton and her email scandal has long ago been factored into the race. Those supporting Clinton have not been put off by the revelations, and those opposed to her likely aren’t coming to her camp in any event. That means this week’s revelation — which does not yet show any wrongdoing from Clinton and no attempt to hide these emails being investigated — likely won’t have much an effect on the presidential polls that will come out next week.
There is another big advantage for Hillary Clinton that still can be seen in the latest 2016 presidential polls. She appears to have jumped to a big lead in early voting, with Democrats outpacing their 2012 totals in many states. With these votes already banked, Clinton might be able to afford a small hit from the FBI investigation and still end up with a landslide victory over Donald Trump.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]