On the heels of a terrible debate performance, Trump poll numbers have slid dramatically. The debate itself was followed by a litany of attempts to excuse his poor performance, none of which included the idea of candidate himself being subpar. Clinton had no trouble baiting Trump into attacking womenâ€”some 53 percent of the electorateâ€”and Trump continued on Twitter for days afterward as he, among other things, belittled the weigh gain of a former Ms. Universe winner.
Polling numbers slid further as his campaign was rocked by leaked tax returns that revealed an almost $1 billion loss in 1995 (a good economic year) from business decisions based around Trumpâ€™s Atlantic City casinos. This enormous loss has allowed Trump to pay no federal income taxes for almost 20 years and is the probable reason he was unwilling to release his returns in the first place. The notion of Trump as a good businessman should have been dispelled long ago, but perhaps this additional proof was the blow to the head some folks needed.
Finally, a video from 2005 emerged in which Trump more or less confessed to repeated sexual assaults against womenâ€”pushing himself onto women he found attractive because his status as a â€œstarâ€ meant they were less likely to protest. Whether or not he’s correct in that assertion (I suspect he is), the coarse and degrading language he used (termed â€œlocker room banterâ€ in his first pseudo-apology) drove numerous Republican colleagues to distance themselves and a number whoâ€™d denounced him previously to do so again.
How bad was it at the polls? At least one state, North Carolina, that I previously thought of as solidly Trump isnâ€™t a lock anymore. Arizona and Georgia havenâ€™t flipped to Clinton, but never say never. (Realistically, I think only Arizona has a chance at flipping to Clinton.) The big movement to Clinton was in the competitive swing states like Florida, Ohio, and Iowaâ€”all states I thought might go to Trump. My map has it now 330 Clinton, 208 Trump. If Trump doesnâ€™t find a way to change this trajectory, the question wonâ€™t be whether or not he can win, it will be how far the GOP sinks in downticket races.