Political commentators and pundits have been predicting the demise of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign since he announced his candidacy in June 2015. After repeatedly speculating that Trump would drop out "any day now!" many of these pundits lost credibility with the media-consuming public as the 2016 primaries began and Trump started winning victories across the map.
His victories sent the Republican Party spiraling into crisis as he picked off his opponents: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Certain members of the Republican elite, like Christie, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama cast their lot with Trump as the future of the party while other members of the "establishment" such as Bush and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin have endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a fierce conservative known to be hated by his Senate colleagues. Trump's hostile takeover of the party was assumed by many -- including myself -- to have been all but inevitable.
Until last week. Trump had one of the objectively worst weeks of any aspiring presidential candidate in recent history. He has totally tanked his favorability ratings with female voters through a series of actions that he probably believed would not hurt him much. His missteps were so bad that for the first time during the entire campaign, he has had to go on an "apology tour" which rarely anyone but his most ardent supporters will believe is sincere.
His repeated revisions to his stance on abortion policy were always going to look phony next to his initial statement that women who receive illegal abortions should be punished, which many people had no problem believing considering the many accusations of sexism and misogyny the billionaire has faced in the past.
As Time magazine's Elise Jordan reports, the decision to keep campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on staff after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a female reporter likely did not help those views.
The Hill reports that Trump had an unfavorable rating from 73 percent of registered female voters according to a new poll even before he made a series of tweets directed at Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz. A recent poll from NBC and The Wall Street Journal found that up to 47 percent of female Republican voters could not see themselves supporting Trump, which was a much higher figure than for other candidates.
As such, Trump saw his favorability ratings dip to the lowest achieved by any presidential candidate since 1984, according to The Daily Beast. He tried to apologize for his past behavior by adding events in small venues, he acknowledged the violence that has become characteristic of his rallies, and he apologized to Mrs. Cruz for the boorish comments he made on Twitter.
Trump faces almost certain doom in Wisconsin on April 5, where he trails Cruz by between 7 and 10 points and where a large and vocal part of the conservative movement -- including radio host Charlie Sykes and Gov. Walker -- have made their opposition to Trump well known. If he does not win at least part of Wisconsin's 42 delegates up for grabs, it greatly increases the chances that the Republicans will have a contested convention and will narrow Trump's path to the nomination.
Of course, Trump has surprised everyone before and it is quite possible he will continue to do so. He has solidified a large bloc of support which the Republicans will almost certainly need to win the general election. But it is becoming clearer that the man is often just winging it on policy and up until now, did not give a second thought to the insensitivity of his public statements in the name of opposing "political correctness."
Now he is discovering that his candidacy is nowhere near as impervious to public opinion as he thought, and he is scrambling to find a new strategy. Considering the amount of time he has spent talking himself up as a "winner" and utterly disparaging "losers," it may be too late.