ASHBURN, Va. — In suburban Virginia, miles away from the powerful politicians and lobbyists who inhabit Washington, voters agree with Donald Trump's latest message: America's entire political system is "rigged."
The Republican presidential nominee spent months slamming party leaders in the GOP primary for creating a "crooked" system, and later accused Democrats of rigging their own nominating contest against Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont.
But on Monday, amid sagging poll numbers, Trump suggested for the first time that the general election may be rigged in favor of his Democratic opponent — and his supporters seem to agree wholeheartedly.
"I think what he's saying is the truth," Ashburn resident Don Panzica told the Washington Examiner. "What came out in the Democratic National [Committee] emails and the way the liberal press operates, he's clearly fighting an uphill battle."
"There are more dead people voting in Chicago than people that are alive," claimed Patrick Meglio, a Trump supporter from South Riding, Va., who had come to hear the candidate for the first time. "The Democrats have made a science out of rigging elections and it should be a concern."
Meglio went so far as to suggest the Trump campaign appoint an adviser whose sole responsibility would be "watching just about every single poll to make sure everything was done fair and square."
"I don't trust it," he said. Meglio forcefully pushed back when asked if he thinks Trump's latest criticism of the political system is due in part to him trailing Hillary Clinton in a series of new polls.
"I don't think he cares," he told the Examiner. "If Trump loses, he loses. I think he wants people to be aware that there could be a problem and to get ahead of it if there is."
One undecided voter, who hails from Trump's home state, disagreed. Claiming the general election is rigged, she said, is Trump's way of convincing his supporters that he remains in a strong position, even if polls say otherwise.
"I don't think I have all the facts, but at some point the candidates are going to spin whatever facts they do have in their direction," said Maggie, who declined to give her last name. "No matter whether it's right or wrong, true or false — it's going to be spun."