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ground game

Two weeks that could define the 2016 race

Bernie Sanders (from left), Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton.

It’s possible that in November, when the election is over, we might look back at the last two weeks as the defining part of the campaign.

Yes, there are still big moments to come in 2016, including the vice presidential picks and the debates. But in the last two weeks, the race has turned against Donald Trump in some fundamental ways, and he doesn’t appear to know how to climb out of that hole.

Consider three different poll numbers that came out in the last day:

-- Seven in 10 Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, according to the newest ABC News/ Washington Post poll. No one has ever been elected president with that high of an unfavorable number. (The same poll gave Hillary Clinton a 55 percent unfavorable number.)


-- A Bloomberg Politics poll gave Clinton a 12-point national lead over Trump, 49 percent to 37 percent, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson grabbing 9 percent. This is Clinton’s largest lead of the campaign, and it comes after many Republicans found Trump’s comments about a federal judge off-putting. This poll found also that 55 percent of Americans would not vote for Trump under any circumstance.

-- A new Politico Battleground analysis of polls shows Clinton leading in 8 of 11 swing states. Keep in mind that because of the advantage Democrats have in the Electoral College, all Clinton needs to do is win one state -- Florida -- along with traditional Democratic states, and she is the next president. Polls show Clinton and Trump currently tied in the Sunshine State.

All of this comes as Clinton works to get once-skeptical Democrats on board with her campaign. In fact, given that her primary rival, US Senator Bernie Sanders, has not conceded the race yet, it is possible her support among her own base could grow quickly and soon.


Meanwhile, Republicans are growing more concerned with Trump. Two weeks ago, Trump looked to pivot to a general election campaign. He had important voices in the party like US House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say it was time to endorse him for party unity’s sake. Now they are backing off their stances.

With 33 days until the Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland, Republicans are increasingly worried that Trump could be a disaster in November. They note he has not moderated his language, built campaigns in swing states, has only held a few fundraisers. He is off to Scotland next week.

The last two weeks could frame the rest of the campaign, but the next two weeks can determine if there will be renewed conversation about denying Trump the nomination.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign at www.bostonglobe.com/groundgame.