With less than one week to go for the US elections scheduled for November 8, that horse race is now in the homestretch. Even before the primaries were over, this newspaper went out on a limb and suggested that the rank outsider Donald Trump might go all the way. He went on to win the Republican nomination quite handily and then raised his poll ratings to almost equal those of his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, who has been the very definition of a “Washington insider” that was supposed to “play” the system.However, late last month, revelations that Trump had made, under the kindest interpretation, some rather tasteless statements about women, saw his poll numbers plunge way below his opponent’s and led the pundits to virtually write him off of the race. Women, after all, comprise at least half of the electorate, and the “smart money” presumed most of them would be offended by Trump’s jaundiced view of women. But seemingly inexorably, those numbers began to climb and last week, when the FBI revealed it was reopening a probe into official emails Clinton had stored on a private server, Trump had closed the gap within striking distance.But it is important to step back and examine the reasons why Trump’s numbers started to climb upwards even before Clinton’s email scandal resurfaced. As we have pointed out in this space repeatedly, Trump is tapping into some very primal fears in the collective American psyche centred around “nativism” and “American Exceptionalism”, and these have not been evaporated away by Trump’s gaffe. Nativism – looking down on immigrants and scapegoating them for what ails the society – has actually increased since Trump entered the political fray.He has given voice to what had become “politically incorrect” for the “establishment” figures to utter in the post-Civil Rights era in the US and the 1960s’ Enoch Powell rightist rants in Britain. The nativism in Britain resulted in Brexit and whether Trump becomes President of the US or not, there will be no going back to facile assumptions that the US had entered into a “post racial” era after the election of Barack Obama to the American presidency. Trump may have toned down his explicit anti-immigrant rhetoric as he went into the stretch, but his insistence that a “wall” must be built along the Mexican border (and paid for by Mexico) is a signifier to his base that he “means business”.Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is trapped into the liberal rhetoric of “comprehensive immigration reform” that includes regularising illegal immigrants, which is a red flag to nativists, and about which even most moderate Americans are not very passionate. Trump epitomises the “American Exceptionalism” button – that America is basically superior to other nations because of its unique history and values –- with his swagger, bluster and threats to even put allies in their “place”. And here again, while Clinton has of recent began to play this card, it has actually backfired in that some of her “moderate” supporters see the move as “pandering” to Trump.As the dust is beginning to settle, it can be seen that neither the debates nor the scandals have altered the equation between the two candidates significantly. Trump’s challenge, therefore, might not be at the level of the popular vote, but at the “electoral college”, which actually elects the President and Vice President. In the US, every state is allowed a number of “electors” depending on their population – excepting for the smaller states that must have at least three. Forty-eight of the fifty states are treated as a “winner takes all” situation for a total of 538 electors. Because of the lack of total congruity between population and electors, in 2000, Gore lost to George Bush even though he received more popular votes.With Trump emphasising Clinton’s “unsuitability” for the presidency because of what could be serious leaks from her emails, he might still win it all.