The scorched-earth playbook employed by Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE’s presidential campaign is stirring alarm among allies of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBudowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE, with some fearing the negativity will depress turnout on Election Day.
Some Clinton supporters say they’re concerned that voters are nearly fed up with the constant accusations and name-calling that has defined the campaign.
“Of course there’s reason to worry, both about the ‘turn off’ effect or the impact if polling continues to show her leading by a wide margin,” one longtime Clinton adviser acknowledged on Thursday. “That, too, could lead some to stay home.”
The hostile atmosphere in the race has been worsening by the day.
In the past 48 hours, several women have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct following reports of a tape in which the Republican nominee talks about grabbing women by the genitals. Protestors have been interrupting Clinton to accuse her husband of rape, after Trump brought women who have accused former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMaxwell accuser testifies the British socialite was present when Epstein abuse occurred Epstein pilot testifies Maxwell was 'number two' in operation Federal judge changes his mind about stepping down, eliminating vacancy for Biden to fill MORE of sexual misconduct to the second debate.
Trump is increasingly warning of a “conspiracy” that he says is being waged against him by the Republican Party, corporate interests and the mainstream media. And amid the chaos, there’s been a slow drip of emails from WikiLeaks that appear to detail the inner workings of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Another former Clinton aide added that while Trump’s comments have been “desperate,” there’s some cause for concern.
“In the final days of a presidential campaign, it’s something you have to worry about,” the source said.
Grant Reeher, the director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, agreed, saying turnout fears are running high for candidates up and down ballot.
“I think every campaign from the two presidential campaigns on down are thinking about this, and rightly so, because this kind of conflict can raise the attention level and the interest level of people, but when you start hacking away into the enthusiasm, then that leads a lot of folks to just say, ‘I'm not going to bother at all,’” he said.
“The hardcore people will vote, but it’s the folks that are less attached that are going to be vulnerable to this.”
Publicly, the Clinton campaign has dismissed concerns about turnout, predicting ballots will be cast in record numbers.
"We are starting to see true indications of enthusiasm in this election, and they are pretty indisputable," said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manger, on a Thursday conference call with reporters.
Yet the Clinton campaign and its team of powerful surrogates — from President Obama to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection MORE (D-Mass.) — are campaigning like the race is far from won, spending much of the month in swing states needed to push the Democratic nominee over the top.
In a speech on Thursday, first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson Obama'Car guy' Biden puts his spin on the presidency Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Son gives emotional tribute to Colin Powell at service MORE delivered a cutting rebuke on Trump, saying his comments about women have “shaken me to core.”
“I know it’s a campaign, but this isn’t about politics,” Obama said. “It’s about basic human decency. It’s about right and wrong. And we cannot endure this or expose our children to this any longer, not for another minute, let alone for four years."
“Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say, enough is enough,” she added. “This has got to stop right now.”
The comments come a day after Clinton addressed voters to “reject the dark and divisive and hateful campaign that is being run.”
“Americans want to turn out in as large numbers as possible,” she said, adding that the campaign has “done our best to stay out of all the meanness.”
Turnout fears aside, Clinton is heading into Election Day with a stronger ground game, a massive fundraising advantage and a solid lead in the swing states she needs to win.
“By all reports, the Democrats have a much better [get out the vote] operation than the Republicans, so that should help offset to some degree,” said a longtime Clinton adviser.
Clinton allies have been pushing for her to make a positive closing argument, telling voters specifically why they should vote for her.
“... To the extent she can finish on a high note and stress a positive message of change and bipartisanship, that could help make people feel good about voting,” the adviser said.
In the speech in Colorado earlier this week, Clinton called Trump’s recent tactics “pure negativity,” saying he has nothing else left. She has talked about how she wants to be “the president for everyone.”
But political observers say that might be easier said than done, particularly after such a brutal election campaign.
“Winning [the election] is the least of her problems,” said Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. “You have to wonder what her first year will look like and whether she’ll be able to get anything done beyond an infrastructure bill."
“Do people say, ‘Thank God that’s over,’ or do they give some indication they want something to get done?” Jillson said.