US election race bitterly battled to the end

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As  the American electorate finds its way to the polls, the long race to the White House which has been characterised throughout with acrimonious exchanges between the candidates is finally coming to a close, with Donald Trump branding his rival a stupid “phoney” and Hillary Clinton denouncing her Republican challenger as a “loose cannon”.

In a contest that has been mired by personal attacks and overshadowed for several days by an FBI investigation into the former First Lady’s emails, whatever the result in the early hours of Wednesday morning UK time, one thing is certain: America is a deeply divided country.

As both candidates criss-crossed key swing states, opinion polls had the Democrat Mrs Clinton three points or so clear of her Republican rival. But while the former secretary of state might have nosed ahead of the billionaire businessman nationwide, the keys to the White House lie in who wins in the key battleground states.

Mrs Clinton continued to try to capture more votes from Latinos, African-Americans and young people, while Mr Trump was looking to rev up disaffected auto workers and a middle class he believes has been sidelined by the political Establishment.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, the TV reality star took a leaf out of the British experience, declaring how his campaign was “Brexit plus, plus, plus”.

In the sunshine state of Florida, another key battleground, Mr Trump brushed aside talk of how Mrs Clinton was ahead in the polls, telling supporters he was convinced he would win. In Sarasota he branded his rival “such a phoney”, led the crowd in a chant of “drain the swamp,” and insisted: “We’re tired of being led by stupid people.”

Continuing his pitch as the anti-Establishment champion, he added : “We’re one day away from making the change you’ve been waiting for your entire life.”

Meantime, in Pittsburgh, Mrs Clinton emphasised her promise to bring the country together should she win, telling supporters America faced a choice “between division and unity, between steady leadership and a loose cannon”.

She then headed to Michigan, a traditional Rust Belt Democrat stronghold that has been heavily targeted by Mr Trump in recent days. Following that Mrs Clinton was off to Philadelphia where she was joined by President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle, husband Bill and rock star Bruce Springsteen.

One of Mrs Clinton’s biggest boosts on the stump has been the fulsome support of the person whom she lost the Democrat candidacy to eight years ago.

At Michigan University, Mr Obama urged young people who had supported him in the last two elections to do the same for his former government colleague.

Ending his second term in office with strong approval ratings, the President repeated his charge that Mr Trump was “temperamentally unfit to be commander-in-chief,” and cast the New York real estate magnate as simply out of touch with ordinary Americans.

“In his 70 years on Earth, the Donald has never shown any regard for working folks. I don’t think he knows working people, except for the folks who clean up in his hotels and the folks who mow the fairway on his golf course,” declared Mr Obama.

Meantime, the financial markets have experienced a roller-coaster ride during the campaign.

There have been predictions of a run on the dollar should Mr Trump win.

Once the FBI made its latest announcement on the Clinton email probe, financial markets surged as did the dollar, putting them on track for their biggest gains in weeks.

As the votes come in and the result nears tomorrow morning, investors will be holding their breath.