Donald J. Trump is parting ways with a winning Electoral College map – a self-inflicted dive that began two weeks ago right after the first presidential debate.
According to Real Clear Politics polling averages in the battleground states needed to get to 270 electoral votes – Trump would get 197 to Hillary Clinton’s 341.
His erosion in polls came largely over his performance in the first debate and a Twitter war with a former beauty queen.
A succession of national polls Tuesday showed Clinton ahead of Trump by anywhere from 5 to 11 percentage points. It is unclear if any of those polls captured the impact of the vulgar and aggressive sex talk revealed in a 2005 hot-mic video or Trump’s debate performance Sunday.
The video prompted House Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a call with the House Republicans Monday to let them know they can do whatever works for them in terms of supporting the party nominee.
In short, if supporting Trump works in their district, do it; if it doesn’t, feel free to walk away.
In response, Trump unleashed a Twitter storm at him and other "disloyal" Republicans and declared to campaign in any way he wants since the party had basically left him.
He released a bombardment of brutal Tweets blasting Republicans who abandoned his White House run and deepened a party divide ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
"It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to," Trump tweeted, adding he now planned to take on Clinton on his own terms.
"Trump is telling us by his behavior that he would rather go down in flames than go out quietly," said Lara Brown, a political scientist at George Washington University, "This is where I would argue this is part of his narcissism, He'd rather take out he whole party rather than be branded a loser," she said.
His running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who served with Ryan in the House, said he was "disappointed" with the speaker's decision walk away from Trump. The Wisconsin lawmaker is his friend, "but I respectfully disagree with his focus in this campaign," he told NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell in Iowa.
"I truly do believe Republican leaders should join millions of Americans and support the Republican nominee," Pence said. "Certainly we're disappointed."
In his focus on Ryan, Trump failed to take advantage of the unfavorable information found in the latest WikiLeaks document dump from Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked email account released Tuesday morning.
The emails exposed inside discussions about her campaign messaging, spats with Clinton over dealing with her email server, a transcription of an "off-the-record" interview with The New York Times this summer and complaining about donors and her former State Department associates.
What he should have been doing was concentrating on Clinton and not attempting to destroy his party, said Brown, "Unwisely he appears to be more focused on creating a bloody battle within the GOP rather than a laser focus on the faults of his rival," she said.
Salena Zito covers national politics for Newsmax.
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