A truism of American politics is that if you play around with race or religion you will get burned. Donald Trump has played both the race and religion card, and if current polling is to be believed; opinion has hardened against him in the past two weeks and he is headed for a thumping defeat.

Playing the religion card has long had dire consequences, especially for Republicans. There is the famous case of a Protestant minister arguing that the Democrats were the party of Rum, Romanism and Rebellion, an ethnic slur that sunk GOP presidential candidate James G. Blaine in the election of 1884.   Catholics took great exception to the notion they were not good Americans and voted for Democrat Grover Cleveland in such huge numbers that he beat the favored Blaine.

In 1928, the belief that Catholic Democrat Al Smith lost the presidency to Republican Herbert Hoover due to his religion led two generations of Catholics to vote heavily Democratic. Republicans were unable to win significant numbers of Catholic voters until the election Richard Nixon in the late 1960s (even Catholics who voted for the popular Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s voted straight Democratic down ballot).

So Trump, ignorant of history, tried to play the race card by denouncing Mexicans and the religion card by denouncing Muslims. And it blew up in his face in the oddest of all places, a speech at the otherwise forgettable Democratic National Convention by a grieving Muslim father, wife standing silently at his side, who lost their son 12 years ago in Iraq.

This only occurred because of Trump’s declaration that he would prohibit any Muslims from entering America. While this alienated America’s small Muslim population, it probably also alienated the nation’s much larger Asian population as a vast majority of Muslims are Asians, not Arabs.

Americans don’t like pitting one religion against another, being a people who fled the religious hatreds in Europe to begin with. They also take the election of a president very seriously, and they reach a point where they have decided to reject one of the candidates. Trump, by playing religious card along with his own often bizarre behavior, has reached that point.

In 1988, Michael Dukakis started out well ahead of George H. W. Bush, but his lack to empathy for murder victims plus his riding around in a tank made him look foolish, and country turned to Bush in the late summer polling and he never fell behind. When Ronald Reagan ran in 1980 voters had doubts about his qualifications for the office until he bested President Jimmy Carter in their October debate. But the country had no qualms on Carter; they viewed him as a failed president and wanted him out.

We have now reached that point in this campaign. Trump has gotten himself mired in religion, and his attack on the Gold Star parents convinced a growing majority of voters to judge him unfit for the presidency. While the country has no particular love for Hillary Clinton, whose speeches are just one cascading platitude after another, Trump’s attack on the Gold Star parents with his five Vietnam-era draft deferments was just too much for voters to forgive. And so the polls have hardened against him and baring some miracle in Trump’s favor, will not turn around.

Since rats rarely swim towards a sinking ship, that whooshing sound you hear is Republican incumbents and candidates rushing away from the sinking Trump. We live in a nation so polarized that voters now rarely split their tickets. Already enough Senate Republican incumbents have fallen behind in the polls in states where Clinton is surging that Trump’s long term contribution to American politics may well be a Democratic Senate in 2017 and a liberal Supreme Court for the 40 years after that.

The latest edition of the California Target Book, just out, provides a similarly grim picture for Republican incumbents in this state. Trump was running 30 points behind Clinton in California polling a month ago; he is likely doing worse now. Republican primary turnout was atrocious, the worst ever when compared to Democratic turnout, leaving more than a dozen GOP legislative and congressional districts at serious risk.

The decline of the Republicans in California, which in this election could lead to the disappearance of Republicans as a political party altogether, began with the GOP alienation of Latinos in the anti-immigrant ballot measures of the 1990s, another lesson why not to play the politics of race.

Now thanks to Trump Republicans have taken that show nationwide, and it appears quite likely that an enormous Latino turnout in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico Florida and Arizona will deliver those states and the presidency to Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump will join James Blaine and Herbert Hoover as Republicans who led their party down the road to defeat when they let religion become embroiled with politics.