Hillary Clinton moved to press her advantage in the presidential race on Sunday, urging black voters in North Carolina to vote early as Republicans increasingly conceded that Donald J. Trump is unlikely to recover in the polls.
With a strong lead in national polls, Mrs. Clinton has been pleading with core Democratic voters to get out and vote in states where balloting has already begun. By running up a lead well in advance of the Nov. 8 election in states like North Carolina and Florida, she could make it extremely difficult for Mr. Trump to mount a late comeback.
On Sunday, Mrs. Clinton appeared at a church in Raleigh, N.C., with mothers who have lost children to gun violence or clashes with the police. Addressing the congregation, she sounded like a candidate looking past the election to a presidency in which she would have to address a deeply divided nation.
“There are many people in our country willing to reach across the divide, regardless of what you’ve heard in this campaign,” Mrs. Clinton said. “There are people — millions and millions of people — who are asking themselves these hard questions, who want to find a way to work together to solve these problems that we face.”
Geneva Reed-Veal, whose daughter, Sandra Bland, died in a Texas jail after a traffic stop last summer, called on the congregation to make its voice heard at the polls. “If you decide not to vote, shut your mouth,” Ms. Reed-Veal said.
Both Mrs. Clinton and key Republican groups have effectively pushed aside Mr. Trump since the final presidential debate on Wednesday, treating him as a defeated candidate and turning their attention to voter turnout and battling for control of Congress.
An ABC News tracking poll published on Sunday showed Mr. Trump trailing Mrs. Clinton by 12 percentage points nationally and drawing just 38 percent of the vote.
Mrs. Clinton, who drew support from 50 percent of voters in the poll, was openly dismissive of Mr. Trump over the weekend, telling reporters on Saturday that she no longer worried about answering his attacks. “I debated him for four and a half hours,” she said. “I don’t even think about responding to him anymore.”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is increasingly preparing for the possibility that Donald Trump may never concede the presidential election should she win, a development that could extremely complicate the crucial early weeks of her ground-work to take office.
Aiming to undermine any argument the Republican nominee may make about a “rigged” election, she hopes to roll up a large electoral vote margin in next month’s election. That could reject the New York billionaire’s message and project a governing mandate after the bitter, divisive presidential race.
Clinton’s team is also keeping a close eye on statements by national Republican leaders, predicting they could play an important role in how Trump’s accusations of electoral fraud might be perceived. That’s according to several Clinton campaign aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal strategy.
Campaign officials stress they are not taking the outcome of the election for granted. But Clinton and her team have begun thinking about how to position their candidate during the post-election period. Long one of the country’s most diverging political figures, Clinton has begun telling audiences she’ll need their help in healing the country.
“I’ve got to figure out how we heal these divides,” she said in a Friday interview with a Tampa radio station WBTP. “We’ve got to get together. Maybe that’s a role that is meant to be for my presidency if I’m so fortunate to be there.”
A refusal by Trump to accept the election results would not only upend a basic tenet of American democracy, but also force Clinton to create a new playbook for handling the transfer of power. And a narrow victory would make it more difficult for her to claim substantial political capital at the start of her administration.
“Donald is still going to whine if he loses. But if the mandate is clear, I don’t think many people will follow him,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, in an interview Thursday with CNN’s “New Day.”
While Clinton’s campaign has long focused on maintaining pathways to cross the threshold of 270 electoral votes, it’s now looking to capture an expanded number of states that could also help determine control of the Senate — including Republican-leaning Arizona.
Polls show that Clinton has extended her advantage in several toss-up states during the three fall debates, giving her campaign more confidence. She has maintained stable leads in states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado, as well as a narrow edge in Florida and North Carolina.
“They’re looking at it like this: We’ve got these doors of opportunity open, let’s make sure we go down all of them,'” said Jeremy Bird, the national field director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign who is helping Clinton’s team.
If Clinton wins the White House, she will enter as one of the least popular first-term presidents in generations. While Trump has suffered from high unfavorable ratings, particularly among women, Clinton has been hampered by polls showing more than half of the public considers her to be untrustworthy.
Some Republicans are already preparing for Trump’s defeat, downplaying the significance of a Clinton triumph.
Karl Rove, the chief strategist of George W. Bush’s successful presidential campaigns, said Sunday on Fox News that he did not expect that Mr. Trump could pull off a comeback in the final two weeks of campaigning.
“I don’t see it happening,” Mr. Rove said.
Two outside groups aligned with Republicans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Senate Leadership Fund, have begun running television commercials in Senate races implying that Mr. Trump’s defeat is likely and asking voters to send Republican lawmakers to Washington as a check on Mrs. Clinton.
And the Congressional Leadership Fund, a powerful “super PAC” that supports Republicans in the House of Representatives, will begin running ads in the coming days that attack Democratic candidates as “rubber stamps” for Mrs. Clinton, and urge voters in swing districts to support a Republican instead.
“There are many districts where we are going to be running ads that talk about the Democrat being a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Shields said. “In many districts, it is a very, very potent weapon to use against a Democratic candidate for Congress.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, acknowledged on “Meet the Press” on NBC that Mr. Trump was behind in the race. She said the campaign had “a shot” at winning over undecided voters who do not currently support Mr. Trump but who dislike Mrs. Clinton.
But Mr. Trump has made little effort in recent days to deliver a sharply honed campaign message or to address the flaws at the core of his candidacy. He scheduled no public campaign events on Sunday before an evening rally in Naples, Fla., though early voting begins this week across most of the state.
In a Saturday speech that was intended to outline his closing message in the race, Mr. Trump instead began by issuing a broad threat to sue all the women who have come forward to say that he sexually assaulted them.
Ms. Conway said on Sunday that the threat was “a small piece of a 42-minute speech.
But just because everything looks good for Hillary doesn’t mean we can relax. If you want to help call your locate Democratic Headquarter to volunteer to make call or go knocking on doors to remind people to vote. If you have elderly neighbors see if they need a ride to the polls on Election Day. Hillary needs a landslide victory so that Donald Trump has nothing to say on election night but “Congratulations Madam President Elect.” We need to have a clear victory that Trump can’t find anything to say “the election was rigged”.