Asia Watches Closely As US Presidential Election Gets To Its Peak

NEW YORK / TOKYO — The 2016 U.S. presidential election has entered the final stretch of the race, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton holding a narrow lead over her Republican opponent, Donald Trump.

The outcome is being closely watched in Asia and beyond as the closely fought contest may have serious trade and security ramifications.

As of Nov. 7, Clinton was leading Trump 47.2 to 44.3 in the national polling average, compiled by Real Clear Politics. This compares with Clinton’s 7-point lead over Trump in early August. Clinton’s advantage has narrowed since the FBI announced Oct. 28 that it opened a new investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server for official correspondence. The polling average includes polls conducted by Nov. 5 and therefore does not reflect the impact of the Nov. 6 news that the FBI found no evidence of criminal activity in newly discovered emails to or from Clinton.

Share prices rallied in Asia and around the world Nov. 7, after the FBI cleared Clinton on the email probe. Markets had tumbled toward the end of the last week, as participants contemplated the prospect of a Trump victory, with Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average on Nov. 4 falling below the 17,000 mark for the first time in more than two weeks. On Nov. 7, the Nikkei index rebounded to above 17,000 and ended at 17,177.

Among the issues of greatest concern to the region are trade, currency fluctuations, immigration and, most importantly, America’s commitment to the region. Already the election campaign has called into question President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, as both Trump and Clinton have come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The free trade pact, meant to be the Obama administration’s crowning economic achievement, was signed by 11 countries in February but has not been ratified by the U.S. Congress.

To win the presidency, a candidate must get 270 electoral votes, which are apportioned state by state based on population. Clinton and Trump are vying to take so-called battleground or swing states. These include Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina, where neither candidate has a decisive lead.

Asian Americans, the country’s fastest-growing ethnic minority, are a growing constituency in those swing states, giving them an important role in determining the outcome of the election.

In a poll by political research group Asian American Decisions, conducted between Sept. 29 and Oct. 11, Clinton was backed by 63% of registered Asian American voters, while Trump polled at 17%.

Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is seen as an important factor in the disparity.

About two-thirds of Asian Americans were born in Asia and have family ties to the region. The National Asian American Survey showed that 47% of respondents said immigration was either the most important or among the most important issues to them.


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