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Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- This year’s election presents a choice between two of the least popular presidential candidates in recorded history. But with just over two weeks to go until Election Day, the gap in enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is widening as excitement for the Republican tempers.

The most recent ABC News poll of likely voters shows Clinton gaining in reports affirmative support -- the number of backers voting for her rather than in opposition of Trump. Meanwhile, 54 percent of Trump's supporters say they are driven more so by their stance against Clinton.

The decrease in zeal among Trump supporters could be related to voters’ opinions of how the businessman has handled recent scandals plaguing his campaign. Throughout the month of October, Trump has combated controversies over the release of a video showing him making lewd statements about women and multiple sexual assault accusations ranging as far back as the 1980s.

In the ABC News poll, conducted from October 20-22, 69 percent of likely voters reported disapproval in how Trump is handling questions about his treatment of women.

Trump previously defended his derogatory comments captured on a 2005 video as “locker room banter” and surrogate Rudy Giuliani defended the candidate, saying, “The fact is men, at times, talk like that.” But men reported almost equal levels of dismay in Trump’s actions -- 67 percent of male respondents disapproved of how he responded to the situation.

Another possible explanation for diminishing excitement about the real estate mogul’s candidacy could be his performance in the presidential debates. Those answering the ABC News poll felt that Clinton won the final debate by a margin of 52-29 percent. Independent voters -- who are more likely to use the debates to help them select a candidate -- favored Clinton in last week's debate 48-28 percent.

An additional factor possibly affecting voter enthusiasm appears to be Trump’s claims that the election is “rigged.” Trump has repeatedly raised concerns of voter fraud and intimidation during campaign rallies and, during the final debate, refused to guarantee he would respect the results of the election or concede to Clinton, should she win.

While views of Trump’s position on voter fraud are highly split on party lines -- only 7 percent of Democratic likely voters view fraud as a legitimate concern -- a majority of Independents view Trump’s stance in a negative light, as do some Republicans.

Fifty-seven percent of independents, and even 23 percent of Republicans, view Trump’s talk of fraud as a way to hedge a potential loss to Clinton on election day. While this opinion alone likely wouldn’t swing Trump supporters to Clinton’s side, the view of Trump as a possible poor loser could certainly contribute to the waning reports of enthusiasm.

Sixty-five percent of independents and 34 percent of Republicans also disapprove of Trump’s indication that he may not accept the election’s results.

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ABCNews.com(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired back at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump while campaigning with Hillary Clinton in the critical state of New Hampshire Monday, saying "nasty women vote."

“Get this, Donald -- nasty women are tough,” Warren quipped. “Nasty women are smart. And nasty women vote. And on November 8th, we nasty women are going to March our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”

Warren's comments were a reference to what Trump said during the third and final presidential debate, when Trump called Clinton "such a nasty woman."

“She doesn't whine. She doesn't run to Twitter at 3:00 A.M. to call her opponents "Losers" or "Dummies," Warren said at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, defending Clinton. “She doesn't even cry that the election is rigged. No. Hillary is the kind who just gets up every day and she keeps on fighting.”

Shortly after taking the stage, Clinton also tweaked her Republican opponent, suggesting he would be “tweeting away,” if he heard what Warren said about him.

“We're up here without our phones. So, you know, we can't check tweets, but -- I kind of expect if Donald heard what she just said, he's tweeting away,” Clinton joked, “She gets under his thin skin like nobody else.”

With Election Day just 15 days away, Clinton paid the Granite State a visit after more than three weeks.

The Granite State has voted Democrat in five of the last six presidential elections and provides four Electoral College votes.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — When it comes to Election Day, it's not just the furious battle at the top of the ticket that's at stake, but the presidential candidates appear to be taking very different approaches to their down-ballot colleagues.

Hillary Clinton and other high-profile Democrats are sharing the spotlight with some of those vying for other seats that are up for grabs, and while Donald Trump has tried to make recent calls for support for other Republicans, his earlier comments may make his efforts seem half-hearted.

Trump campaigned in Florida this weekend and touted the work that he could do "along with a Republican House and Senate," including an immediate repeal of Obamacare and "massive tax reduction."

But he did not specifically give the local Republican senator -- Trump's former rival Marco Rubio -- a shout out.

Trump has previously personally mentioned Rubio, but even that reference on Oct. 11 shows how contentious his relationship with the man he used to call "Little Marco" appears to be.

"Remember when we were in the primary I ran against Marco, Jeb [Bush], all these guys ... Hey, look, Marco has been very very nice lately and I hope he wins, I do," Trump said at an event in Panama City.

Trump has strained relationships with other lawmakers running for re-election. He was famously reluctant to endorse Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and insulted Arizona Sen. John McCain, both of whom are currently leading in their own races.

It isn't only the more secure races where he is playing a potentially damaging role, however. In addition to his tepid support for Rubio in the Florida race, Trump has also criticized Sen. Kelly Ayotte who is in a close race to hold on to her seat in New Hampshire.

The rocky relationships between the head of the Republican ticket and those running for down ballot races marks a stark contrast with what's happening on the Democratic side.

Clinton has regularly featured down-ballot candidates at her rallies, typically in the pre-program and occasionally she will go to private events or meetings with them while in town.

She's amped up her support in recent days, however, as she has included detailed sections of her speech laying out their resume or how their opponents have not stood up to Trump.

One recent example came in Philadelphia when she criticized Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey and praised Democratic challenger Katie McGinty.

Clinton listed off various groups and people that Trump has insulted, saying that Toomey "heard Donald Trump insult" those groups. Though Toomey has not endorsed Trump he has not renounced him completely, saying that he "remain[s] unpersuaded" about who to vote for.

"If he doesn’t have the courage to stand up against Donald Trump after all of this, then how will stand up to special interests and powerful forces that are going to be trying to have their way in Washington?" Clinton said of Toomey on Saturday. "So, it’s important that all of you do everything you can in these last 17 days to make the case to send Katie McGinty to Washington."

Clinton, as well as President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have attended events supporting down-ballot races or included those running in local races at their rallies for Clinton and her running mate Sen. Tim Kaine.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he is winning the race to the White House, one day after his campaign manager acknowledged that they were behind.

Trump, who is in Florida for two rallies later Monday, declared on Twitter, "We are winning and the press is refusing to report it."


We are winning and the press is refusing to report it. Don't let them fool you- get out and vote! #DrainTheSwamp on November 8th!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2016


On Sunday, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway appeared on NBC's Meet the Press, saying, "We are behind."

Conway said Hillary Clinton is "seen as the incumbent" and has "tremendous advantages. She has a former president, happens to be her husband, campaigning for her, the current president and first lady, vice president."

"Our advantage is that Donald Trump is just going to continue to take the case directly to the people," Conway said.

"We have a shot of getting those undecided voters," she said. "We need to bring them aboard over the next couple of weeks."

RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer agreed with Conway, saying on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday, "There's no question I think we're trailing behind."

Spicer added, "But I think we've got the wind at our back heading into the final two weeks."

Clinton vaulted to a double-digit advantage in Sunday's inaugural ABC News 2016 election tracking poll. The poll showed Clinton leading Trump by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 50 to 38 percent, in the national survey, her highest support and his lowest to date in ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls.

Monday morning Trump held a round-table with farmers in Boynton Beach, Fla., deeming the ABC poll as "phony" and telling the voters "I actually think we're winning."

"We're up in Ohio, we're up in Iowa, we’re doing great in North Carolina, I think we're doing great in Florida," he said. "I think we're going to win Florida big."

He called "phony polls" "part of the crooked" and "rigged system that I've been talking about since I entered the race."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Roughly two weeks from Election Day, the GOP is concerned that Donald Trump’s sagging campaign could endanger House Republicans’ largest majority since 1928.

Democrats are unlikely to flip the 30 seats needed to take control of the lower chamber, but significant losses would leave Republicans with a slimmer majority that would likely remain divided over the basics of governing.

Heading into the fall, House Republican leaders were cautiously optimistic that their candidates would avoid the worst of a down-ballot drag from Trump’s embattled presidential campaign.

As individual members in competitive races distanced themselves from Trump’s various controversies, Republican leaders boasted that internal party polling had shown incumbents’ running ahead of the GOP presidential candidate.

"We're in a much stronger position than anybody thought,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters in September.

But Republicans were left scrambling by a Washington Post report earlier this month on a damning 2005 video showing Trump’s boasting of groping women without their consent, which he has defended as nothing more than “locker-room talk.”

Dozens of Republicans pulled their support for Trump; some even demanded he withdraw from the race. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who criticized Trump but kept his endorsement, advised his conference to focus on their own races.

In the weeks since, Trump has been accused of sexual assault by at least 10 women (he denies their charges) and has refused to accept the results of the election unconditionally.

Democrats have launched a series of ads across the country — from Orange County, California to northern Wisconsin — tying Republicans to Trump’s hot-mic Access Hollywood comments.

“It’s clear that House Republicans are directly tied to Donald Trump and cannot separate from his toxic campaign this late in the game,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said in an email to ABC News.

House Democrats’ campaign arm has run dozens of ads in House races across the country.

The Clinton campaign, along with outside Democratic groups, is also redirecting resources toward down-ballot races. Of particular focus to Democrats are the 26 districts President Obama won in 2012 that are either held by Republicans or open seats this year.

Republicans are also working hard to build their own firewall. As of this month, Ryan has raised nearly $50 million to protect the GOP majority, and has spent the month on a 17-state, 40-plus city campaign blitz. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has also raised and given nearly $25 million to Republican candidates this cycle.

Republican groups, including the National Republicans Congressional Committee, have also started running ads linking Democrats to a Clinton White House, calling on voters to support divided government and prevent a “rubber stamp” of Hillary Clinton’s agenda.

The GOP resources, along with Republicans’ efforts to distance themselves from Trump, could help limit losses in November.

In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, generic congressional Republicans were down just 2 percentage points to Democrats, a sign to some Republicans that voters could distinguish between congressional Republicans and Trump.

But a continued Trump slide would be difficult for most Republicans to outpace.

Among likely voters, Trump trails Clinton 50 to 38 percent in a new ABC News poll released Sunday, his lowest level of support to date in an ABC News/Washington Post survey.

That same poll found the share of registered Republicans likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October, a trend that could hurt down-ballot candidates who need the support of moderate suburban Republicans and Trump-supporting conservatives alike.

GOP operative Brian Walsh said Trump could be depressing GOP turnout with his unsubstantiated claims about the election being rigged.

“That language is not just harmful to the democratic process; it’s harmful to the Republican Party,” he told ABC News.

Still, Democrats would need a near-clean sweep of every competitive district to take back the House. Just 15 races are pure tossups, according to an ABC News analysis of the House races. (Another 24 lean Republican and 15 lean Democrat.)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters last week she feels “pretty good” about the House map, predicting a “single-digit” majority either way.

A slim majority could spell trouble for Ryan and other GOP leaders, who would be leading a conference with a higher percentage of hardliners skeptical of compromising with Democrats on even the most routine pieces of legislation.

“We need to have a healthy majority and a strong majority,” Ryan recently told the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. “If we have a razor-thin majority then every vote can be problematic. Every vote on everything can be difficult.”

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Diminished enthusiasm and a high level of negative support are undermining Donald Trump’s candidacy in the closing stretch of the 2016 campaign, the ABC News election tracking poll finds — while Hillary Clinton has improved on both these measures.

Fifty-six percent of Clinton's backers in the national survey, a new high, say they're voting mainly to support her rather than to oppose Trump. By contrast, 54 percent of Trump voters are mainly motivated by opposition to Clinton, not support for him.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

Affirmative support can be a stronger motivator to vote, and Clinton's has gained 9 points from its low just before the party conventions in July. Trump's affirmative support, by contrast, has been essentially flat in the same period.

Levels of enthusiasm for the candidates, while similar overall, also have followed different trajectories. Fifty-two percent of Clinton’s supporters now describe themselves as very enthusiastic about their choice, the most to date and up sharply from 36 percent in early September. Among Trump supporters, 49 percent are strongly enthusiastic; he peaked on this measure in late September.

The result of these trends is that Trump's 12-point advantage in strong enthusiasm just after Labor Day is now a (non-significant) 3-point deficit to Clinton. In ABC News/Washington Post polling since 2000, the candidate with more strongly enthusiastic support has won.

As first reported Sunday, the first three nights of the 2016 ABC News tracking poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, found Clinton with her biggest lead of the campaign in vote preference, 50-38 percent over Trump among likely voters. That’ll be updated in Tuesday’s report.

In one noteworthy result, 5 percent of likely voters in the survey indicate that they in fact already have voted, a number in line with estimates reported by turnout expert Michael McDonald of the University of Florida. Total early and absentee voting is expected to reach more than a third of all votes cast, a record.

October leads of this magnitude have been seen often before in ABC/Post pre-election polls: 11 points for Barack Obama over John McCain in 2008, 19 for Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole in 1996, 13 for Clinton over George Bush in 1992, 13 for Bush vs. Mike Dukakis in 1988 and 18 points for Ronald Reagan over Walter Mondale in 1984. With the exception of Reagan, the final outcome ultimately narrowed in each case — but the leader won.


There are differences among each candidate's supporters in strong enthusiasm. Fifty-seven percent of women who favor Clinton are very enthusiastic about it, compared with 44 percent of men. Among those age 50 and up, 61 percent are very enthusiastic, compared with 41 percent of her supporters younger than 50. Liberals who back Clinton are more strongly enthusiastic than moderates, 59 vs. 45 percent.

In Trump's case, strong enthusiasm peaks at 59 percent among his very conservative supporters, dropping to 43 percent among somewhat conservatives and moderates.

In terms of affirmative vs. negative support, liberals who back Clinton are more for her than against Trump, by 62-35 percent, while moderates divide evenly. By contrast, 57 percent of conservatives who back Trump say they're mostly opposing Clinton, compared with a split among moderates. In no group, save rural voters, does a majority back Trump affirmatively.


This ABC News poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Oct. 20-22, 2016, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 874 likely voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 36-27-31 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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Barbara Kinney for Hillary For America(WASHINGTON) — For political junkies who are sick of the presidential horse race — and for those who just can’t get enough of it — there is plenty of action below the top of the ticket, starting with a slate of close swing-state races that could determine which party controls the Senate next year.

The results in those races will be crucial to determining the next president’s ability to translate his or her agenda into legislation — and Congress’ ability to turn those bills into laws –- not to mention other key responsibilities like voting on a Supreme Court nominee.

Republicans have long been playing defense in a crowded Senate map, with 24 seats in play, at least 10 of which are in swing states, compared to Democrats’ 10. Democrats need a total of four or five new seats, depending on who wins the White House, to retake Senate control.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the rough terrain for his party during an end-of-term press conference in late September.

“It's pretty obvious this was going to be a really challenging cycle for us. And we have a lot of incumbents who are up in purple states,” he said. “It's sort of like a knife fight in a phone booth.”

Republicans have tried to minimize the damage of having the volatile Donald Trump at the top of their ticket by trying to ignore him entirely and instead highlight candidates’ accomplishments within the states they’re seeking to represent.

“Republican Senators are talking to voters like they’re running for sheriff. Every message is highly targeted and purposefully local,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Andrea Bozek wrote in an email.

Case in point: Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio, whose campaign ran several ads focusing on his work combating the prescription drug and heroin addiction crisis in his state. Portman has maintained steady leads ahead of his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Ted Strickland, so far insulating himself from the much closer race between Trump and Clinton in the Buckeye State.

But the “Trump effect” has managed to seep into some critical races despite Republican candidates’ discipline in ignoring questions about him on the trail, and despite many of them, like Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte, renouncing their endorsement of him after a 2005 video emerged of him making lewd comments about women.

New Hampshire’s Ayotte suffered a Trump-related setback after saying during a debate that she would “absolutely” encourage children to look at the businessman as a role model, though she quickly walked those comments back.

Since that flub earlier this month, at least one poll has shown Ayotte trailing Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, although several other surveys showed the race in a virtual tie.

And while up until recently, former North Carolina state Rep. Deborah Ross has focused on hitting her opponent Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as a consummate Washington insider, instead of as a Trump ally, her campaign has changed its tone lately, releasing one ad Friday that notes that Burr is an adviser to Trump.

“It’s imperative for our campaigns to highlight how their Republican opponents have failed people in their states,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said in an email. “A part of that includes their support for Donald Trump as they were complicit in helping build the Party of Trump.”

Another factor that could help Democrats in the race for Senate control is the Clinton network turning its attention to down ballot races.

Last week, the Clinton campaign contributed $2.5 million each to the Democratic Senate and House campaign committees — a fraction of the $100 million it's made in total contributions this cycle — and pledged $6 million for mail and digital ads in seven battleground states, including Ohio and New Hampshire.

“Since the start of the campaign, Hillary Clinton has been committed to winning races up and down the ballot. Every Republican who put their party ahead of the good of the country to back Donald Trump, even if they try a last minute political conversion, should be held accountable," Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in an email.

The top Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA, also shifted some resources to Senate races, a reflection of its confidence in a Clinton victory at the top of the ticket.

As part of that effort, it released a new ad Thursday in New Hampshire, one of the only ads there that explicitly ties Ayotte to Trump, playing the debate moment in which Ayotte says he would be a good role model.

“For months and months of this,” a narrator’s voice says, followed by clips of Trump’s most eyebrow-raising comments — “Kelly Ayotte stood by him… But now,” the ad continues, “she’s running away. Trying to save her political career.”

While the Clinton campaign and Priorities are legally barred from communicating or coordinating, both seem to share a strategy for winning the Senate: Start explicitly tying Republican candidates to their presidential nominee.

Clinton campaign spokesperson Jen Palmieri indicated as much during a gaggle on the campaign plane: “These are leaders of the Republican Party that legitimized Donald Trump’s candidacy.”

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Bettmann/Getty Images(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) — Sixties radical peace activist-turned-liberal California state lawmaker Tom Hayden has died. He was 76. Hayden’s family says he passed in Santa Monica Sunday night, surrounded by loved ones.

He was married to actress Jane Fonda from 1973 to 1990. The two had a son, actor Troy Garity, together.

Fonda and Hayden held news conference together in 1973, calling on the American people to pressure President Richard Nixon to sign a peace deal prior to his second inauguration to stop the Vietnam War.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Hillary Clinton has vaulted to a double-digit advantage in the inaugural ABC News 2016 election tracking poll, boosted by broad disapproval of Donald Trump on two controversial issues: His treatment of women and his reluctance to endorse the election’s legitimacy.

Likely voters by a vast 69-24 percent disapprove of Trump’s response to questions about his treatment of women. After a series of allegations of past sexual misconduct, the poll finds that some women who’d initially given him the benefit of the doubt have since moved away.

Fifty-nine percent of likely voters, moreover, reject Trump’s suggestion that the election is rigged in Clinton’s favor, and more, 65 percent, disapprove of his refusal to say whether he’d accept a Clinton victory as legitimate. Most strongly disapprove, a relatively rare result.

All told, Clinton leads Trump by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 50 to 38 percent, in the national survey, her highest support and his lowest to date in ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls. Gary Johnson has 5 percent support, Jill Stein 2 percent.

The results mark a dramatic shift from Clinton’s 4 points in the last ABC/Post poll Oct. 13. That survey was conducted after disclosure of an 11-year-old videotape in which Trump crudely described his sexual advances toward women, but before the events that have followed: A series of women saying he sexually assaulted them, which Trump has denied; his continued refusal to say whether he’d accept the election’s legitimacy; and the final debate, which likely voters by 52-29 percent say Clinton won.

This inaugural 2016 ABC News tracking poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, was conducted Thursday through Saturday among 1,391 adults, including 874 likely voters. This is the first in what will be daily ABC News tracking poll reports from now to Election Day. The Washington Post will join ABC’s tracking survey later this week.

The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.

Vote preference results among some groups also are striking. Among them:

• Clinton leads Trump by 20 percentage points among women, 55-35 percent. She's gained 12 points (and Trump's lost 16) from mid-October among non-college-educated white women, some of whom initially seemed to rally to Trump after disclosure of the videotape.

• Clinton has doubled her lead to 32 points, 62-30 percent, among college-educated white women, a group that’s particularly critical of his response to questions about his sexual conduct. (Seventy-six percent disapprove, 67 percent strongly.)

• That said, Clinton's also ahead numerically (albeit not significantly) among men, 44-41 percent, a first in ABC News and ABC/Post polling.

• Trump is just 4 among whites overall, 47-43 percent, a group Mitt Romney won by 20 points in 2012. Broad success among whites is critical for any Republican candidate; nonwhites, a reliably Democratic group, favor Clinton by 54 points, 68-14 percent.

Even with the gender gap in candidate support, the results show damage to Trump across groups on the issue of his sexual conduct. While 71 percent of women disapprove of his handling of questions about his treatment of women, so do 67 percent of men. And 57 percent overall disapprove “strongly” – 60 percent of women, but also 52 percent of men. By partisan group, 41 percent of Republican likely voters disapprove of Trump on this question, a heavy loss in one’s own party. That grows to 70 percent of independents and nearly all Democrats, 92 percent.

For comparison, 59 percent of likely voters disapprove of Clinton’s handling of questions about her email practices while secretary of state, including 31 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of independents and 84 percent of Republicans. Forty-five percent overall disapprove strongly, again a high level, if well fewer than strongly disapprove of Trump on the misconduct issue.

On Trump’s claim of a “rigged” election, 23 percent of Republican likely voters say he’s trying to make excuses in case he loses, rather than raising a legitimate concern; this view swells to 57 percent among independents and 91 percent among Democrats. That said, 74 percent of Republicans, and 84 percent of Trump supporters, say it’s a legitimate issue.

Further, one in three Republicans – 34 percent – disapprove of Trump’s refusal to say whether he’d accept the election’s outcome if Clinton won. That jumps to 65 percent of independents and, again, 91 percent of Democrats. Not only do 65 percent overall disapprove, but 53 percent feel strongly about it.


This ABC News poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Oct. 20-22, 2016, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 874 likely voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 36-27-31 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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Michael Davidson for Hillary for America(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Hillary Clinton has employed a large group of high profile surrogates including President Obama to campaign across the country ahead of election day, but none of the surrogates have been more effective at making the case against Donald Trump than first lady Michelle Obama.

Clinton's campaign announced Sunday that the two women will campaign together for the first time on Thursday in North Carolina.

"She has exceeded our expectations in terms of how many events she has been able to do, willing to do," Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon said of the first lady. "Her team keeps surprising us with additional availability and we can't, from our vantage point, we can't get her out there enough. She's been an absolute rock star."

So far, Michelle Obama has appeared for Clinton six times since the first lady gave a powerful speech on night one of the Democratic National Convention. At a speech earlier this month in New Hampshire, Obama said that Trump's remarks about how he women will let him do "anything" because he is a "star" heard in a leaked video have "shaken me to my core," and she called on voters not to dismiss them as "just another day's headline."

"Last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. I can't believe I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women," Obama said.

The first lady has drawn large crowds at her events in battleground states, making a trip to Arizona on Thursday where 7,000 supporters came out in the middle of the day. Never mentioning Trump's name, the Obama has had so much impact that she seemed to get under the Republican nominee's skin.

Trump brought up a speech Obama gave during the 2008 primary when her husband was running against Clinton and interpreted the remark as a hit against Bill Clinton's affairs.

"I see how much [Michelle Obama] likes Hillary," Trump said at a rally in North Carolina. "But wasn't she the one that originally started the statement, 'If you can't take care of your home,' right? 'You can't take care of the White House or the country?' Where's that? I don't hear that. I don't hear that."

The first lady claims her 2008 remark was about balancing family and politics and not an attack on Clinton.

"In light of this joint appearance, if he wants to resort to that again, we’ll see how that works out for him," Fallon said.

"She's one of the most admired people in America period. And I think it's exceptional to have the opportunity to have a strong woman like the first lady attest to another strong woman like Hillary Clinton who is running for president," he said. "In terms of the idea that voters are looking for someone who they can envision as a role model in the job of president is something that is a really effective way to make the case as to why Donald Trump is unacceptable."

Fallon added that Michelle Obama has become their "not-so-secret weapon" and as Clinton spends more time in North Carolina, a place the Clinton campaign considers a must win for Donald Trump, they believe Obama will help make the case even better than Bill Clinton or the sitting president.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(LAS VEGAS) -- President Obama continued his assault on down-ballot Republicans in Nevada Sunday, criticizing Senate candidate Joe Heck and the GOP at large for enabling Donald Trump, while urging Nevadans to send Democrats to Congress.

"Presidents can't do everything on their own," Obama said. "We can't elect Hillary [Clinton] and saddle her with a Congress that is do-nothing."

He ripped Heck, who had endorsed Trump until the "Access Hollywood" episode, for telling donors he wants to support Trump after publicly urging him to withdraw from the presidential race.

"When Donald creates his TV station, I'm sure Joe Heck will be up on there, giving interviews," he said.

A fiery Obama, who periodically led chants of "Heck no!" accused GOP leaders of tolerating conspiracy theories about his birth and paving the way for Trump's rise.

"Donald Trump didn't start it. He just did what he always did -- which is slap his name on it, take credit for it, and promote it. That's what he does," he said.

He also pushed back on Republicans' emerging argument for voters to send Republicans back to Congress to check a President Hillary Clinton.

"A vote for them is basically more gridlock," he said.

The attack, delivered at a Clinton rally in Las Vegas, is Obama's second direct rebuke of a GOP senator in the past week, and comes as Clinton maintains her lead over Trump just over two weeks before Election Day.

Speaking in Florida Thursday, Obama slammed Sen. Marco Rubio for continuing to endorse Trump for president while standing by his numerous criticisms of the presidential candidate during the primary.

The race to replace retiring Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada is one of the few where Republicans are on offense, and have a chance to flip a Democratic seat.

While he's going after Republicans on the trail, Obama is also lending Democrats a hand in down-ballot races across the country.

He's appeared in a handful of radio and television ads for House and Senate candidates, and plans to endorse roughly 150 candidates in all.

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ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- A purportedly leaked email exchange from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta has brought attention to an academic study that found that the super wealthy and business interests in the U.S. have substantially more say on public policy than average citizens.

The email exchange was in 2014, before Clinton officially announced her candidacy and prior to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders entering the race and making concerns about income inequality and the concentration of wealth and power at the top a major theme of the Democratic primary election.

The messages are among thousands posted on the WikiLeaks website recently that are purported to have been hacked from Podesta’s inbox. The Clinton campaign has said little to confirm or deny the authenticity of the emails or their content.

The campaign's chief strategist, Joel Benenson, said Sunday on ABC News' "This Week" that while he hasn't spent a lot of time reading the purportedly leaked emails, "I know I've seen things that aren't authentic, that we know aren't authentic." He declined to elaborate, saying he wouldn't "go into details."

Podesta released a statement that blamed the Russians for what he called "the illegal hack”: “It is now clear that the illegal hack of my personal email account was —- just like the other recent, election-related hacks —- the work of the Russian government," the statement said.

The email exchange about the study suggesting the U.S. is now an oligarchy was -- if the messages are authentic -- between James Sandler and his father Herbert Sandler of The Sandler Foundation, both of whom have donated to Democratic causes or candidates.

James Sandler appears to have initiated the exchange with an email that linked to a story on the liberal blog Talking Points Memo about the study, with a headline declaring that the U.S. is no longer an actual democracy.

"I guess it takes a study to point out the obvious," Sandler purportedly wrote.

Podesta does not appear to comment on the study, instead referring to a New York Times op-ed about Israeli politics moving to the right.

"US is no longer a democracy" "Guess it takes a study to point out the obvious" billionaire to Clinton chief https://t.co/szXz5clpuu pic.twitter.com/w4f33gFp5j

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 22, 2016

Herbert Sandler responds that he has "read it and circulated it," though it's unclear if he's referring to the Talking Points Memo article or the study itself.

He adds that this is precisely what he and his wife "have believed for some time ... It is horrible."

ABC News requested comment from the Sandler Foundation but did not immediately hear back.

In the , political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University found that a small number of super wealthy people, the "economic elites," and organized groups representing business interests in the U.S. have far greater influence on public policy than "average citizens."

"We believe that if policy-making is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened," the authors stated in the study.

Bernie Sanders made this theme a tenet of his primary campaign against Clinton.

"[W]e are moving rapidly away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society," Sanders said said in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. in February 2015. "Today, the most serious problem we face is the grotesque and growing level of wealth and income inequality. This a profound moral issue, this is an economic issue and this is a political issue."

Sanders also sought in his campaign to portray Clinton as less focused on this issue and too concerned with the interests of Wall Street.

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Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images (NEW YORK) -- Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster refuted claims that Democrats are responsible for inciting violence at Donald Trump's campaign rallies, saying the blame lays squarely on the rhetoric of the GOP candidate.

“Donald Trump, day after day, on the stump, was inciting people,” Joel Benenson told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” "We have video of Donald Trump saying, 'punch him in the mouth. I want him carried out on a stretcher.'”

Over the past week, Trump frequently referred to a secretly recorded video recently released by conservative activist James O'Keefe's Project Veritas Action. The video appears to show a Democratic operative bragging about deploying troublemakers at Trump rallies.

Benenson confirmed to Stephanopoulos that two Democratic operatives associated with the video have resigned.

He also said he is "pretty confident" that there are not any others engaged in such activities.

Referring to O'Keefe, the Clinton campaign strategist said, "We're talking about a guy who has a track record of doctoring videos."

Benenson added that if the Trump campaign wants to talk about O'Keefe instead of the Republican candidate, "it's showing a sign of desperation" in the last weeks before the election.

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George Frey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Riding a surge of support in polls in Utah, independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin said he feels "very good" about his chances of winning the state, and accused the nation's Republican leaders of putting the interests of their party ahead of conservative principles and the good of the country.

"The reality is that the vast majority of Republican leaders are putting party ahead of principle and putting power over the interests of their own country," McMullin told George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview on ABC's "This Week."

McMullin argued that the GOP is going in the wrong direction with Trump as the nominee, and that he is skeptical the party can quickly make the changes needed to both return to conservative principles and appeal to a broad swath of American voters.

"It's going in the wrong direction, not the right direction, in its nomination of Donald Trump, but then also in standing by Trump even as he continues these bigoted, sexist, xenophobic messages to the United States," he said. "If the Republican Party can't make the changes, as it wasn't able to do after 2012 [presidential election], the conservative movement will need a new political vehicle."

That call for a new conservative party could take off with a win in Utah, which McMullin says would send a strong message to the country that voters "still stand on principle."

No independent candidate in a general presidential election has won all of a state's electoral votes since 1968, when segregationist George Wallace won the southern states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

McMullin is surging in polls in Utah and drawing crowds of Republican-leaning voters at his rallies who are apparently unhappy with their party's nominee but uninterested in Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or Libertarian Gary Johnson, both of whose liberal stances on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage turn off the heavily Mormon electorate in the Beehive State.

Still, McMullin, a former CIA operative and Republican congressional staffer, struggles from a lack of name recognition and a national party to support him. Asked if he hoped to gain a public endorsement from former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a fellow Mormon, to boost his chances, McMullin said the support his campaign cares about is from "regular people across the country."

"They are the ones who are funding our campaign," McMullin said. "They are supporting us. They are carrying our message online, on social media. And that's the support that we care about."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Eric Trump commented on his father's vow to sue every women who has accused him of sexual misconduct, saying, "He's a fighter ... and he believes in calling out right and wrong."

"My father's a guy who will fight. He'll fight for this country. And he's always fought for himself and, quite frankly, throughout this whole process he's needed to fight for himself," the son of the Republican presidential nominee told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview on “This Week.”

"Quite frankly, he's a great fighter, and he believes in calling out right and wrong," Trump said.

Donald Trump spoke Saturday in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on his plan for his first 100 days in office if he is elected, but began his address by criticizing the “dishonest” media, the “rigged” political system, and pledging that after the election he will sue every woman who has accused him of sexual misconduct.

"Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication," the Republican nominee said in his speech at a hotel near the historic Gettysburg battlefield. "The [alleged] events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over."

Eric Trump also addressed a claim by People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff, who wrote about an alleged instance when Donald Trump pushed her against a wall and forced "his tongue down my throat," in the mid-2000s.

The Republican nominee's son dismissed Stoynoff's account as somehow tied to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, telling Stephanopoulos, "I just don't believe it."

He said he was warned months ago to "get ready for October ... What the Clinton machine will throw at you, you know, the dirty tricks, the things that will come out, the things that they'll orchestrate."

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