Five Thirty Eight has been arguing for a while that Trump isn't a serious contender. I disagree. In past elections, Trump would have been a non-starter, but changing demographics, economics, and the shrinking conservative base have altered the calculus. I would argue that in today's climate.
The extreme wing of the Republican party (the group that has been groomed by the Koch - FOX cabal), the Tea Party contingent, has grown to have an outsize impact on Republican primaries. These people are bitter (and they cling to their guns and religion, as someone once pointed out). They are afraid of the other (be that other brown, gay, or something else) and they badly want to return to an imagined America of the past. In their minds, the tea party contingent sees a world in which the gays didn't exist, brown people knew their place and women weren't always up in your face with their "rights" and stuff. They think that this weird utopia existed sometime in the 1950s and that Liberals have stolen it.
These are people who believe that the 2nd amendment says that you can have guns because you have a right to overthrow the government if you want. They believe that rich people drive the economy. They believe that blacks and latinos and gays have been given a lot of special rights that "Real Americans" just don't have. They are angry. They don't trust the media ( and that includes Fox news - they trust FOX over NBC, but not on its own). They don't trust the politicians. They don't trust the Other. They want a revolution. Bloody revolution. They are angry.
And along comes Trump.
"In Trump's case, he appears to be cornering the market on white voters, the backbone of the current Republican Party, the poll shows," he wrote. "Republicans need as many white votes as possible to offset demographic shifts in the United States that have handed Democrats an electoral advantage in the last two presidential elections."Those white voters? Make that White male voters according to the polls.
Republican White Men. Specifically Tea Party affiliated Republican White Men love The Donald. When he spews racist shit, he goes up in the polls. When he attacks women, he goes up in the polls. This is the new road to a Republican nomination. It ain't pretty, but it works.
Side note: in head to head match-ups, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden beat Trump easily.