by Peter Mertz
DENVER, United States, Nov. 6, (Xinhua) -- With record turnouts reported across America by early-ballot Latino voters, both U.S. presidential candidates turned to a handful of swing states, and key battleground states in the west, with the election less than 48 hours away.
The heavy Latino early voting is seen as favoring Democrats in the East Coast states of North Carolina and Florida, but particularly in the western states of Arizona, Nevada and Colorado.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign manager John Podesta told ABC's Meet the Press Sunday that early, heavy Latino voting is in response to Trump's harsh rhetoric about building a "Great Wall" between the United States and Mexico.
According to Podesta, Latino voting across Florida and Nevada is more than the 2012 presidential election, when Hispanic voters helped Barack Obama to the presidency with wins in several key swing states.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus responded Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation by downplaying the Latino surge and predicting Republican victories in several key senate races, including John McCain in Arizona.
According to Nevada's ABC's KTNV, over 57,000 people cast ballots in Clark County by Saturday night, a record-breaking turnout for single-day early voting in a county that is 66 percent Democratic, 9 percent Republican, and 25 percent with no party affiliation.
"Clinton has essentially locked up the state thanks to Hispanic voters," KTNV political analyst Jon Ralston reported. "The Republicans almost certainly lost Nevada...tell them to press the panic button," he said.
Saturday's voting surge in Nevada was happening at the same time Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was at a rally in the small city of Reno on the state's western border with California. Trump then left for a nighttime speech in Colorado, his third stop of the day that started 2,800 miles away in North Carolina.
The brash billionaire's 3,500 mile flying frenzy seemed to be sparked by a Clinton campaign media conference call Friday claiming it had built insurmountable early-voting leads in Nevada, Florida, and North Carolina, based on Latino voters turning out in record numbers for the Democrat. The latest polls by ABC News/Washington Post, between 44 percent and 48 percent, and by RealClearPolitics, between 44.8 percent and 46.6 percent, give Clinton the lead nationally, but recent surges for Trump in the western swing states of Arizona, Nevada, and even Colorado, could turn the tide in the Nov. 8 general election.
A CNN poll released last week showed Trump ahead in Nevada by a 49-43 percent and in Arizona by 49-44 percent. In Colorado, Clinton has surged ahead by an average of 4.2 percent in five polls after being behind Trump just 10 days ago.
Although the heavy Latino turnout may make a difference in Nevada, Clinton's chances in Arizona were crushed on Saturday by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that reinstated an Arizona law making it a felony to collect early ballots.
The last minute ruling from the Republican-controlled Supreme Court in Washington, D.C, just days before the presidential election, hurts Democrats' chances to bring out voters in working class, and minority communities.
Early voting is extremely popular to this demographic sector because workers may have difficulties getting to the crowded polls on Election Day. Democrats say the law hurts minorities' ability to vote, many of whom, including Latinos and African-Americans, traditionally vote Democratic.
The highest populations of Latinos in America are in the states of Arizona (33 percent), Florida (24 percent), Colorado (22 percent), New Mexico (49 percent) and Nevada (28 percent), according to 2015 U.S. Census Bureau statistics. All of these states are considered swing states and crucial in the upcoming election.
Underscoring the focus on Arizona and the Latino vote, last week, Clinton's vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine delivered a speech entirely in Spanish to a Phoenix audience.
Thought to be a presidential campaign first-ever event, Democrats in Arizona are reaching heavily into their Latino base hoping to win a state where only one Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton in 1996, has won since 1948.
However on election eve, Trump was leading in all five of Arizona's main polls by an average of 4 percent and Clinton's chances in the state seemed to be dimming.
Political pundits say Trump will have to win all of the so-called swing states to win the presidency. They include the "toss-up" states of Florida, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Hampshire; the Clinton-leading states of Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, Maine, and New Mexico; and the Trump-leading states of Iowa and Arizona.
With Trump closing the gap in Michigan, both parties scrambled to show a presence in this new, mid-west swing state. Both Clinton and Trump will hold rallies in the Great Lakes state Monday, with Clinton joined by President Obama and her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
Trump will bring his wife Ivanka to Michigan Monday, along with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the 2016 vice presidential candidate.
Political insiders tell Xinhua one candidate or both candidates may fly unexpectedly to campaign in a western swing state as well on Election Eve.