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As Race Enters Homestretch, Many Voters Feel Campaign Fatigue


It has been nearly a year and a half since Donald Trump took that slow escalator ride down the golden escalator to launch his bid for the presidency and even longer since Hillary Clinton officially kicked off hers with a two-minute video. Since then, as NPR's Tovia Smith reports, many voters have developed a serious case of campaign fatigue.

TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: It's no coincidence voters are showing up in droves to vote early this election. Many of them literally can't wait for the end of the campaign.

TOM MORETTO: I am very sick of it. Enough is enough sometimes.

NANCY COVINO: I'm sick of all the arguing, all the bull.

T SMITH: It may be the one thing that Watertown, Mass., voter Tom Moretto and Nancy Covino, who support Clinton, have in common with Trump supporters like Rachelli Peltz.

RACHELLI PELTZ: Yeah, I mean, just every time you turn on a TV or the radio, all you just hear about is he did this. She did this.



NEWT GINGRICH: He's not a sexual predator. You can't say that.

KELLY: OK, that's your opinion.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Does Donald Trump go scorched earth...


DONALD TRUMP: You put her in as president, you're crazy.


HILLARY CLINTON: And I, for one, am appalled...

RENEE GOMES: Just the back and forth and the fighting, it stresses me out.

T SMITH: Voter Renee Gomes says even tuning out the news at home is no escape.

GOMES: You know, it's in the bars. It's like I want to have my peaceful beer, but it's just everywhere.

T SMITH: It's why Gomes and the others were thrilled this week to cast their votes early.

GOMES: I just want it done and I won't have to think about it. It's off my mind, just over.

T SMITH: Indeed, experts say, early voting may be the best relief, if not remedy, for election anxiety. In a recent American Psychological Association survey, the election ranked as a top stressor, second only to money. A Pew survey showed voter fatigue started months ago, and new data this week suggests the nasty tenor of the campaign is exacerbated by the relentless drumbeat of social media.

MARGUERITE SYVERTSON: I found that incredibly depressing.

T SMITH: Marguerite Syvertson, a spacecraft engineer from California, says it wasn't till she went offline for a couple days while traveling that she realized how much it was all bringing her down. She's one of many now pruning her Facebook and Twitter feeds to mute, hide, block, unfriend and unfollow those prone to political rants.

SYVERTSON: It's walking away from some toxic people, so it's better.

T SMITH: But so far, political websites are still seeing near-record traffic. For all of voters' aversion to the vitriol, it's still for some, like Bob Smith, must-see TV.

BOB SMITH: It's a real horse race. One day you hear something, the next day someone else is in the lead.

T SMITH: Another voter, 30-year-old Debra Levison, says she was so turned off, she wasn't even registered to vote. But the recent frenzy over old Trump videotapes, new Trump accusers and nasty name-calling turned her from fed up to fired up.

DEBRA LEVISON: And his comments about women and all that just, like, added fuel to the fire. And I was like I need to start registering to vote. I was like, is it too late? (Laughter).

T SMITH: Levison made it in the nick of time, and now says she wouldn't think of skipping voting. The question is how much she'll skip the news until then. Tovia Smith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.