Americans want change. The majority of the public believes the country is heading in the wrong direction. CBS polling found that 55 percent of battleground voters want to see "big changes" in politics and the economy in the next few years. According to Quinnipiac polling in July, over 70 percent of voters in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio want radical change. The electorate is primed for a change agent and there is no bigger disrupter than Donald Trump. But with just over 30 days until Nov. 8, he needs to lock it up.
Trump's thin-skinned nature has hurt him badly. Just last week that was put on display by Hillary Clinton's ability to bait him into commenting on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. His subsequent remarks about her weight and late night Twitter storm attacking her only further fueled the media's negative coverage. That example, along with his comments about Federal District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing the Trump University case, and the Khizr Khan family, have negatively impacted Trump and his standing with voters. His poll numbers dropped after each instance.
The biggest problem for Trump is that voters question his temperament. According to the latest Fox News poll, 59 percent of voters believe he lacks the temperament to serve as president of the United States. Since the first debate, Clinton has seen an 8 percent increase in voters who believe she has the right temperament. That number jumped from 59 percent to 67 percent. Trump's honesty rating also took a hit and voters view him as more dishonest than Clinton.
Clinton is a horrible candidate. She has long suffered from likability problems, she is not a strong debater, and she has massive vulnerabilities on a litany of scandals, from her private email server to the Clinton Foundation. Americans have also been hard hit by the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression and the Obama-Clinton foreign policy has been an abject failure. Clinton's difficulty to connect with the Obama coalition of minority and millennial voters who propelled him to victory in 2008 and 2012 also works to Trump's advantage at a time when the electorate continues to grow more diverse.
Even with all of Clinton's disadvantages and an electorate thirsty for change, Trump's inability to demonstrate restraint could cost him the election. He has been able to regain the narrative in the past, but he is running out of time. Trump has seen a boost in his polling when he focuses on the issues that voters care about and refrains from personal attacks.
With the second presidential debate coming up this Sunday, Clinton is going to try to put him away. Trump cannot afford to be baited again. He cannot sustain any more politically damaging Twitter rants. He has just over 30 days left to convince voters that he is able to be commander in chief. Trump must remain on message and he needs more moments like his visit to Louisiana after the flooding and his meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
It is time for Trump to lock it up, stop tweeting and stick to the script.
Lisa Boothe is a contributing columnist for the Washington Examiner and president of High Noon Strategies.