Three Ways to Tell Who Will Win the White House

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Louisa Weinard, aged 9, works on her homework while her mother waits in a line at a polling station in Durham, North Carolina, on October 20. Peter Trubowitz asks if the African-American vote for Hillary Clinton will be strong enough in key states like Michigan and Pennsylvania to compensate for the high turnout among blue-collar white voters that Donald Trump is likely to enjoy. Jonathan Drake/reuters

This article first appeared on the London School of Economics site.

1) As American voters go to the polls, what should we be looking for?

It's all about turnout now—which side can get its voters to the polls.

Hillary Clinton is relying on a highly touted ground game to drive up her numbers. Donald Trump is counting on a last-minute surge in support to carry him over the finish line in some critical swing states (Florida, New Hampshire and North Carolina).

For Clinton, one important barometer is the Latino vote, which has been surging in early voting. African-American voting is another key factor. It's down in early voting from its historic high in 2012. Will it be strong enough on Tuesday in key states like Michigan and Pennsylvania to compensate for the high turnout among blue-collar white voters that Trump is likely to enjoy?

In Trump's case, the thing to keep your eye on is how college-educated whites vote. Historically, they back Republicans. But they have serious misgivings about Trump. Will they set those misgivings aside and vote for him?

2) Clinton has a much more extensive get-out-the-vote operation than Trump. How important is that?

All things being equal, it should give Clinton the edge. However, there is certainly room for caution here. For one thing, Trump is closing strong. We've seen his numbers go up over the past week or two. He may have crested, but if not, there is also still room for him to pick up additional voters.

Right now, about 12 or 13 percent of likely voters are either undecided or saying they will back one of the third-party candidates: Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party or Jill Stein of the Green Party. What they will actually do when they get to the polls is unclear.

Many could decide that they prefer any kind of change to the status quo. This is why Clinton's ground game is so important for her chances. She needs to get Democratic voters to the polls in key battleground states to compensate for any additional slippage in polls, which currently show her to be marginally ahead.

3) How important was FBI Director Comey's decision to reopen the Clinton email case?

Clearly, the FBI director's unprecedented action helped Trump and hurt Clinton. James Comey's action brought deep partisan loyalties to the surface. What we've been watching in the past couple of weeks is more and more Republicans coming home—deciding that as much as they dislike Trump, they prefer a Republican to any Democrat and especially to Hillary Clinton.

Comey's decision made it easier for them to vote for Trump. Comey's announcement on Sunday, two days before the election, that FBI investigators had not changed their July conclusion not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton should go some distance in defusing this issue, which could prove important after the votes are tallied on Tuesday.

Peter Trubowitz is a professor and head of international relations and director of the London School of Economics' US Centre.

This article gives the views of the author and not the position of USAPP–American Politics and Policy nor that of the London School of Economics.