Donald Trump has had a demoralizing few weeks. He’s been rocked by one misstatement or scandal after another. He’s at war with everyone and every institution, and threatening to punish them all, if elected. According to Trump, there’s a grand conspiracy at work to deprive him of victory, in which everyone is ganging up on him and telling lies. His campaign is now engulfed in flames and spiraling toward the ground.

Trump, of course, says he’s blameless.

Trump’s one good day in the last few weeks came during the second debate, when he did better than in the first. But that is only because the bar was so stunningly low. In all five independent national polls, since then, Hillary Clinton was declared the winner.

Trump said all the polls were fixed.

Trump made one massive mistake in that debate, and it has predictably come back to haunt him. When pushed to explain the videotape in which he boasts about groping women, he said he “talked about it but never did it.” He might as well of put a large red target on his back. Within days, five women had stepped forward to say that Trump had, indeed, done exactly what he bragged about.

Trump said they are are all liars.

Trump’s explanation of the original tape has inflamed the situation further. He says it’s just “locker room talk,” which is the new way of saying “boys will be boys,” as though this is how we should teach our sons to act. Most women on the receiving end of jerks like Trump would call it something else, like disgusting or creepy, hurtful or abusive. Maybe even illegal.

An army of women is now on the march, and they are not amused. As Michelle Obama said in an emotional and compelling speech this week, “Enough is enough.” Clinton said, in an interview, that she is “all that stands between us and an apocalypse.” If that’s true, it is the women of America who seem determined to save us from “the boys” getting their hands on power that they can’t be trusted with.

Trump’s problems with women have gone beyond a tipping point. While he still leads among men, in national polling, that lead has shrunk to just 5 percent. But he trails among women by 15 percent and that number is growing. With women representing 53 percent of all voters, the math doesn’t add up for Trump.

All of this is a subset of a larger problem, which is Trump being Trump. People who become president get there because they can both energize primary voters and expand their support after the primary. Trump has done well with the first, and failed miserably with the second.

Not that Trump hasn’t tried. For a while, he brought some new people in. He worked with the national party on fundraising and field operations. Seasoned veterans of national campaigns helped him with messaging. He began to read from a teleprompter rather than rely on stream-of-conciousness riffs in his speeches. And his polling numbers began to rise.

But Trump’s attempts to broaden his support among women, more educated suburban voters, Hispanics and moderate Republicans were short-lived and at times painful to watch. He seemed to be awkwardly out of his element talking to a mainstream America that doesn’t think and act like him.

Quickly enough, his bad habits began to take over. He couldn’t help himself. The new suit didn’t quite fit the old body. The struggle between the “new” Trump and the old one intensified. And the damaging late-night tweets began again, as his campaign managers cringed.

By now, Trump has fully retreated to his small arenas of adoring fans, who feast on the red meat he feeds them and lap up his every scathing attack on the Clintons, Republicans, the media, government and outsiders. Whether the bully or the victim, he’s once again at the center of every story. Never mind that these ‘huge’ rallies, as he calls them, are far smaller than Romney’s were four years ago, just before he lost.

The real problem is that there simply aren’t enough of those folks to win any election outside of deep red states. And the conspiratorial and hateful messages he’s using to energize his base are turning everyone else off.

Trump has now all but given up trying to broaden his appeal, or he simply doesn’t understand how to do it. Either way, the end is this conversation is near. And the women of America are going to have the last word.

Alan Caron, a Waterville native, 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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