WASHINGTON – The contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tightened this week.

In the RealClearPolitics polling average, Clinton’s lead has shrunk 1.8 percentage points, meaning that the advantage Democrats accrued after both parties held their summer nominating conventions has now dissipated.

At one point Clinton was almost seven points ahead of Trump in the average. As the campaign enters its seven-week homestretch the race is essentially, in the parlance of pollsters, a statistical tie.

That is to not say that Americans are satisfied with their choices. Various polls showed the contrary. A comprehensive online survey of 5,000 Americans found that 31 percent of those polled can’t quite take the leap to vote for Trump—or Clinton. That group was divided into three camps: third-party voters, undecided voters, and those who say they’ll just stay home this year.

Other intriguing numbers emerged, especially concerning young voters, in a CBS News/New York Times poll that came out Thursday. Some 26 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 say they will vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson with another 10 percent supporting Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Tightening national polls also resulted, inevitably, in the gap between Clinton and Trump closing in several key battlegrounds, including Florida and Ohio, two states that often determine the winner in close U.S. presidential elections.

"We always expected the race to tighten up, we still feel like we’re in a strong position with organizational advantage in Florida and Ohio," Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta told reporters Thursday. "They call these states battlegrounds for a reason."

Birther Issue Reappears 

Recently, it has been Hillary Clinton and not Trump who got in trouble for making verbal gaffes. Yet the week’s events were a reminder that wherever Trump is, “The Donald” is not far behind. Asked in an interview with The Washington Post whether he’d now concede that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii instead of Kenya—as Trump insisted for the better part of two years—the Republican nominee couldn’t quite bring himself to acknowledge that the president is American-born.

“I'll answer that question at the right time,” Trump told the newspaper. “I just don't want to answer it yet.”

Asked by the paper whether his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was accurate when she said in a recent television interview that her boss now believes the president was born in the U.S., Trump sought to change the subject: "It's okay, she's allowed to speak what she thinks,” he replied. “I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things."

Handed a weapon, the Democrats promptly used it.

"He was asked one more time where was President Obama born and he still wouldn't say Hawaii. He still wouldn't say America," Clinton said Thursday night at an event hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?”

Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller sought to calm matters, issuing a statement saying that Trump "did a great service to the country" by bringing closure to the debate over Obama’s citizenship.

"In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate," Miller said. “Having successfully obtained President Obama's birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States."

In a Friday press conference at his new Washington hotel, Trump finally put the issue to rest. “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” he said. “Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”

Hillary’s Health

Life on the campaign trail has two side effects that strike candidates, staff, and journalists alike: illness and weight gain. Both were issues for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump this past week.

So both candidates released letters from their doctors stating they are in tip-top shape for the presidency.

Trump is in "excellent physical health," Dr. Harold Bornstein of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York wrote in a letter. Bornstein is known for his proclamation last year that "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

The GOP nominee also revealed on a television program called “The Dr. Oz Show” that he weighs 236 pounds and would like to lose 15 to 20 of them.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s doctor said she is “overall excellent health,” reports RCP’s Alexis Simendinger. Clinton had to take a break from the campaign trail after she was caught on video unsteady during a 9/11 memorial event in Manhattan. Her campaign revealed she had pneumonia.

Dr. Lisa Bardack said in a letter that Clinton “continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States” and “has not developed new medical conditions this year,” with the exceptions of sinus and ear infections diagnosed in January, and the pneumonia she contracted this month.

The Democratic nominee returned to the campaign trail in North Carolina on Thursday – her first appearance since her illness was revealed. The state is a must-win this cycle for the GOP -- no Republican has won the White House since 1956 without North Carolina in his column, reports RCP’s Rebecca Berg.

Clinton acknowledged her health problems.

"As you may know, I recently had a cough that turned out to be pneumonia. I tried to power through it, but even I had to admit that maybe a few days of rest would do me good," she said.  "I'm not great at taking it easy even under ordinary circumstances, but with just two months to go until Election Day, sitting at home was pretty much the last place I wanted to be."


President Obama won the White House partially on the strength of millennial voters, whose support for America’s first African-American president was the largest generational gap in U.S. history. Worried they won’t turn out for the former secretary of state in the same way, the Clinton camp is putting a huge emphasis into mobilizing them. Take a look at who the Clinton campaign has tapped for this effort – and where:

Bernie Sanders, the unlikely darling of young Democrats during the primary season, campaigned for Clinton at a high school in Lebanon, N.H., on Sept. 5.

Chelsea Clinton was at Penn State University on Sept. 7

Obama himself rallied young voters at a campaign stop in Philadelphia on Sept. 13.

Michelle Obama campaigned for Clinton at George Mason University in Virginia on Sept. 15.

Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will rally millennial voters in Ohio this coming weekend.

And Clinton herself will hold a rally in Philadelphia on Sept. 19 to lay out the stakes to millennial voters.

--Carl Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics; Emily Goodin is RCP’s managing editor.