Nearly half of Republicans will have doubts about the outcome of the election if their candidate doesn’t win, according to a new poll — another sign that Donald Trump’s cries of widespread voter fraud and rigged systems could seriously undermine a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Some 45 percent of Republicans said they will not accept the results of the election if Trump loses, compared to 16 percent of Democrats, according to an NBC/Survey Monkey poll released yesterday.

Trump vowed to keep the nation “in suspense” about whether he would accept the Nov. 8 election results during Wednesday’s debate, after weeks of railing against what he considers a corrupt media, a rigged election system and faulty polls.

Another poll, by Reuters/Ipsos, showed Trump gaining on Clinton. The former secretary of state still held a 44-40 percent lead this week, but that was down from the same survey the previous week that had her up by 7 points.

“Make no mistake, by doing that, he is threatening our democracy,” Clinton said at a rally in Cleveland yesterday. “We know in our country the difference between leadership and dictatorship, right?”

The Clinton campaign is hoping to take the contested election strategy off the board by building big wins in key states and delivering a solid political mandate. She will hold a rally in Manchester, N.H., Monday with Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The New York billionaire scheduled a blistering seven rallies in five states over three days, beginning yesterday, and vowed to keep battling until Nov. 8.

“I don’t want to think back, ‘If only I did one more rally, I would have won North Carolina by 500 votes instead of losing it by 200 votes,’ ” Trump said. “I don’t know what kind of shape I’m in, but I’ll be happy.”

Also yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden got down and dirty, suggesting he’d like to challenge Trump to a schoolyard brawl over his caught-on-tape groping comments — using the kind of violent rhetoric that usually lands the casino and real estate mogul in hot water.

“The press always asks me don’t I wish I was debating him,” Biden said of Trump. “No, I wish we were in high school. I could take him behind the gym. That’s what I wish.”

The vice president’s apparent wish to inflict bodily harm on the Republican nominee comes amid long-standing Democratic accusations that Trump has incited violence at his rallies, and runs counter to first lady Michelle Obama’s claims that “when they go low, we go high.”

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(c)2016 the Boston Herald

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