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After the last two weeks of horrible headlines about her foundation and e-mails, Hillary Clinton should be left for dead. And if this were any other presidential campaign, Donald Trump should have been dead a long, long, long time ago.

But as the final stretch of the campaign begins, the same dynamic that existed at the beginning of summer remains: Neither can put the other candidate away because they cannot put their own problems away.

Clinton leads in national polling as well in key states, but those polls are tightening. Some pundits have tried to explain that the 2016 campaign is unlikely to be a landslide election like in 1964 or 1984. They say the country is so structurally polarized that nothing can change the fact that a handful of states are likely to decide the election.

There is something to do that. On the other hand, there isn’t an imbalance of candidate popularity like there was in 1964 or 1984. In 2016, voters basically view both candidates the same way: horribly.

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Here is where the zombie apocalypse analogy comes into play. Both Clinton and Trump are zombies in that they will never die, and they will keep making people uncomfortable. (They have also been on the national stage for decades.) I’ve never been in a zombie apocalypse (fact check needed), but here’s how Wikipedia defines such an event: “In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization. Victims of zombies may become zombies themselves.”

It might be a bit might to suggest that Trump and Clinton are an assault on civilization as a whole, but this campaign is an assault on politics as we know it. Check your social media accounts and you can see evidence that once a person becomes pro-Trump or pro-Clinton, the language changes to mimic that candidate’s campaign theme of “I know you are, but what am I.”

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Infection is only going to get worse this fall, until one of them concedes.


James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign at www.bostonglobe.com/groundgame.