News World Everything you need to know about the US election
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Everything you need to know about the US election

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
Despite these smiles, the extremely bitter campaign is almost over for both candidates. Photo: Getty
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Americans go to the polls on Tuesday and Wednesday (AEDT) to decide if Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the next United States president.

It’s been a long run to the White House with both candidates officially starting their campaigns in March and April 2015 respectively.

So in case you haven’t stayed across the gruelling process, here’s everything you need to know about the US election.

1. When will we have a result?

The last voting booths (except for the sparsely populated state of Alaska) close at 3pm AEDT, and this is the earliest time we will have an official result.

If it’s a landslide, a likely winner will be apparent much earlier than 3pm AEDT. If the election is close (like in 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore) it could take days, if not weeks to know a winner.

2. How the Electoral College works

Mr Trump and Ms Clinton will fight over the 538 votes which make up the US Electoral College. Half of the votes plus one (270 votes) wins the presidency. But how do the candidates receive Electoral College votes?

Each of the 538 Electoral College votes are divided between 50 states (plus the District of Columbia), based on population. No state has less than 3 votes.

Each state hands all its electoral college votes to whichever candidate receives more votes from citizens at the polling booths. Citizens essentially vote for which candidate will receive their state’s Electoral College vote allocation.

3. The political parties

The Republican Party (Mr Trump’s party) is the biggest conservative party in the US.

Clinton and Trump
Mr Trump often wears a red tie.  Photo: Getty

It is commonly called the Grand Old Party (GOP). Its colour is red.

The Democratic Party (Ms Clinton’s party) runs at a more social liberal tilt. Its colour is blue.

The Republican symbol is an elephant – first used by an Illinois newspaper in Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 campaign.

The Democratic Party symbol is a donkey – after the 1828 candidate Andrew Jackson used it on a poster because of his nickname.

4. What does the latest polling say?

Ms Clinton leads Mr Trump by 3.3 percentage points, according to a RealClearPolitics average of the 10 most prominent polls.

5. What are the campaign slogans?

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6. The key policies

Donald Trump

Tax = cut across all incomes.

Terrorism = ‘Element of surprise tactics’, more bombing, torturing.

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Mr Trump is tough on China. Photo: Getty

Trade = Protectionist, opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Guns = Backed by National Rifle Association, oppose gun-free zones, support concealed weapon carry permits.

China = Stand up to China’s economic power, bring manufacturing jobs from China back to the US.

Climate change = doesn’t accept scientific evidence proving climate change is real.

Hillary Clinton

Tax = Increase for high earners, cut for middle incomes.

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Ms Clinton wants to act on climate change. Photo: Getty

Terrorism = More US air attacks in Iraq and Syria, encourage more participation from ISIS’s enemies in the region.

Trade = No longer supports TPP, despite being one of the most senior diplomats who helped shape it.

Guns = Supports Second Amendment but wants assault rifles banned, background checks toughened.

China = Still wants to compete with China, but would take a more co-operative approach.

Climate change = accepts climate change science, uphold Paris Agreement.

7. Big name backers

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8. Campaign scandals

Donald Trump

– June 2015: Mr Trump called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals”.

– August 2015: Mr Trump claims reporter Megyn Kelly was tough on him because she was menstruating with “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever”.

– November 2015: Mr Trump impersonates, mocks disabled reporter at a rally.

donald trump yelling shout
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign collapsed when the lewd comments were released. Photo: Getty

– December 2015: The billionaire proposes to ban all Muslims from travelling to the US

– June 2016: Mr Trump sacks campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after he was arrested for battery. He vigorously grabbed and pulled a female journalist while she asked a question.

– August 2016: Suggests “Second Amendment people” aka gun-users could act on Hillary Clinton.

– October 2016: Leak of 2005 video of Mr Trump telling reporter he is so famous that he can touch and kiss women without consent.

– October 2016: Video leak led to more than 20 women coming forward to accuse Mr Trump of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.

Hillary Clinton

– March 2015: FBI reveals Ms Clinton has been using a private email server for work-related and personal emails.

– July 2015: FBI investigation into private email server finds Ms Clinton sent classified information on private server. Case closed without criminal charges.

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Ms Clinton’s campaign has been continually dogged by email drama. Photo: Getty

– October 2016: FBI announces it will re-open investigation into Ms Clinton’s use of private email server when she was Secretary-of-State, but gives no more information.

– Throughout campaign: Since Mr Clinton left office in 2001, the pair have given speeches for money. Ms Clinton has refused to release speech transcripts, despite rivals claiming possible conflicts of interest.

Wikileaks has also continually dumped hacked emails to harm Ms Clinton, most notably messages that showed a Democratic Party conspiracy to defeat primary nominee Bernie Sanders.

9. What do their voters look like?

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10. Enemies once friends

Ms Clinton and Mr Clinton attended Mr Trump’s wedding to Melania Trump.Their daughters Ivanka Trump and Chelsea Clinton are friends.

Mr Trump has donated to the Clinton Foundation and the Democrats in the past. The billionaire uses this against Ms Clinton:

“With me, there are no lobbyists and special interests. My only special interest is the United States of America,” he told Politico.

11. Why do voters dislike the candidates?

Ms Clinton’s email scandal has plagued her campaign. She has also been in politics since 1983 and her political longevity makes her seem part of a “system” that many average Americans are fed up with.

Mr Trump presents as a political outsider, but his words are often judged as sexist, racist and politically incorrect.

He is a billionaire, but has had failed business ventures which have significantly affected workers – like his casino collapse in Atlantic City.

12. The vice-presidential candidates

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