Did the ‘p****-grabber’ tape just doom Donald Trump’s campaign – or was it dead already?

The idea that daily scandals only made the Republican nominee stronger was a fallacy: maybe he hasn’t had a 47 per cent moment, but he’s had at least 47 one per cent moments

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On Friday morning, British bookmaker William Hill announced that an unnamed 46-year-old woman had laid an eye-watering €550,000 bet on Hillary Clinton to win the US election: the biggest ever wager placed on the outcome of a presidential race. Clinton was already at odds of 4-11. A day later, that bet looks even safer.

If you listen carefully to the tape that emerged yesterday of Donald Trump discussing his preferred methods of sexual harassment – furniture-shopping, p****-grabbing – at around one minute and 11 seconds you can hear the rattle of a Tic Tac dispenser, as the property developer pops a tiny breath mint or two into his clammy palm.

Listen again. Can you hear it? That’s the sound of several thousand swing voters tumbling into the Clinton column.

Trump has already suffered two so-called “October surprises”, and we’re only a week into October: first came the New York Times’ publication of three pages from his 1995 tax return, showing that he claimed a loss of almost a billion dollars that year – and now the Washington Post’s exhumation of that “horrific” audio clip from 2005.

While we’re counting the nails in his coffin, let’s not forget Post reporter David Fahrenthold’s continuing revelations regarding the Trump Foundation, which appears to have been used not so much for charitable giving as for buying political influence and portraits of Donald Trump.

And those are just the outrages that required some journalism to uncover them. Trump’s most recent unforced errors include a 5am tweet advising voters to “check out” former Miss Universe Alicia Machado’s non-existent “sex tape” – one of the later entries in a fat ledger of offensive remarks accumulated over a long 16 months on the campaign trail.

The myth of “Teflon Don” persisted through the primaries, as Trump marched to the GOP nomination apparently unscathed by the controversies swirling around him like hurricane debris. But the idea that daily scandals only made him stronger was a fallacy: maybe he hasn’t had a 47 per cent moment, but he’s had at least 47 one per cent moments.

His poll numbers are resilient because, for reasons those on the far side of the argument may never quite fathom, his core supporters won't desert him under any circumstances. But you need more than a base to win a presidential election. You need undecideds and independents, vast numbers of whom appear to be fleeing Trump, along with several major Republican figures. The Tic Tac tape will probably just hasten the exodus.

While the race has looked excruciatingly tight at times in recent months, Clinton has fallen behind only fleetingly. Reports suggest internal campaign polling shows her in an even more comfortable lead in key swing states than the public polls.

So what could thwart the Democrat now? Sections of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, for so long the subject of fevered speculation, emerged on Friday in a new cache of campaign emails dumped online by Wikileaks. They’re largely unremarkable: one less thing for nervous Democrats to wet the bed about.

When the birther disgrace came back to haunt him last month, Trump’s instinct was to try to pin the blame on his opponent. He did the same yesterday, claiming that Bill Clinton had said “far worse” things to him “on the golf course” than anything in the Tic Tac transcript and promising to “discuss this more in the coming days”

Perhaps at Sunday’s second presidential debate he’ll do what he so delicately restrained himself from doing at the first, and bring up Bill’s treatment of women. Go ahead, Donald, see where it gets you. At this point, to coin a phrase, what the hell do you have to lose?

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