In most normal presidential races, not much happens between the conventions and Labor Day. It is a time when campaigns focus on raising funds, building their ground game and preparing advertising. This year has been remarkably different.

Over the last two months, and particularly over the last two weeks, Donald Trump has managed to run the most clumsy and clueless national campaign in our lifetimes. Barry Goldwater and George McGovern ran better campaigns than this, and they both got clobbered in November.

Even Stephen King couldn’t sell the story of how this campaign has been unfolding. It isn’t plausible enough. In just a few weeks, we’ve had a presidential candidate who attacked Gold Star parents, called upon the Russians to break into his opponent’s computers, said those same Russians would never invade the Ukraine (which already happened), continued a wide array of useless old fights within his own party, and ignored advice from all directions.

As if all of that wasn’t damaging enough, he spent his time this week in Maine, while falling behind in key swing states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

It’s hard for any campaign to win the “war” in November while losing all the battles leading up to it. And Trump has been losing all of them so far. He’s picked a vice-presidential candidate to solidify his base in the party, rather than one who could expand the Republican reach. Clinton went the other way. He’s failed to unify the party. Clinton has. His convention speech was watched by more people than Clinton’s, but hers was more liked by viewers. He’s two months behind in fundraising and building campaign operations in critical swing states.

The early returns on this haphazard campaign have been swift and stark. After a brief bump following the Republican convention, Trump’s support has dropped with every demographic group, including white working-class men, in every region of the country. Clinton’s support has been moving in the opposite direction and she now leads in virtually every swing state and even a few states that should be solidly Republican.

National polls this week showed her with leads of 5 to 15 percent and an average lead of 7.5 percent. Some of that improvement is clearly from a bounce in support from the Democratic convention, but that bounce got some jet fuel because of Trump’s chaotic campaign.

While the race is a long way from over, negative impressions are the hardest thing for a candidate to overcome. Can Trump reverse these trends? Sure, with a disciplined and well-organized campaign and a focused candidate. But there are no signs that Trump can stay focused for more than a few hours before launching another tweet attacking someone new.

What we’ve seen from Trump over these last few weeks is a perfect illustration of how some campaigns are lost in the early stages rather than the final sprint. There are ninety days left in this race, but the next few weeks may be unusually important to Trump. Without a dramatic shift in his campaign, the trickle of Republican defectors will get larger and louder as Republicans facing tough re-election battles begin to bolt to safety.

What’s the solution for Republicans? It isn’t waiting for the spots to fall off this leopard. The Trump you see is the one you get. He’s impulsive, undisciplined, self-absorbed and reckless. He’s also dangerously indifferent to facts. Two national fact-checking organizations now show him to be one of the greatest liars that the country has seen in any modern presidential race.

For those Republicans, like our own Sen. Susan Collins, who have been waiting for the “new” Trump to appear, it is time to acknowledge what is obvious. This is Donald Trump. He is a danger to both the country and the world. And he is not fit to be the leader of either.

With Trump, there is only one universe. And he is the sun that it revolves around. Everything is an expression of his need for attention, his fragile ego, his impulsiveness and now his self-destruction.

A possible national debacle is looming for Republicans, in November, in which they could lose the U.S. Senate, suffer significant losses in the House, and find themselves with a lasting fracture between the radical elements that propelled Trump to the nomination and the people who are actually trying to govern in the real world.

It wasn’t long ago that Trump supporters and others were talking about Trump as a ‘brilliant’ politician who was shaking up the world. So far, he’s looked less like the new political genius than the village idiot.

Alan Caron is the principle of Caron Communications and the author of “Maine’s Next Economy” (2015) and “Reinventing Maine Government” (2010). He can be reached at: [email protected]

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