Even close observers of politics are flummoxed, astounded and surprised by the meteoric rise of Donald Trump – they shouldn’t be.
Many will be thinking that a real estate mogul, part-time reality TV star, and self-proclaimed non-politician has no business running for the most powerful elected office in the world, but is that really the case?
Ever since John F. Kennedy was elected in the 1960s, and TV’s role became ever more important, the race to become American president has been more about show business, branding, and marketing, than policy.
It’s difficult at times to get to grips with Trump. Is he really a successful businessman despite rumours that he has not beaten average Dow Jones returns since he inherited his many millions?
Frankly, it doesn’t much matter. Trump is undoubtedly brilliant at branding and showmanship.
Despite his many, many failed business ventures, he has managed to build the Trump brand into one synonymous with wealth, luxury and success. Put simply, he has said he’s a winner so many times that millions of Americans believe it to be true.
Americans are competitive at everything and value winning, and winners, over everything else – they do not love the underdog as we do. Trump has turned early momentum from audacious sound bites and uber aggressive debating style into a swell of backers looking to be part of the winning team.
But perhaps more important than just a recognisable face and a ridiculous quiff, Trump is riding the crest of the “non-politician” wave. This is a familiar path tread around the world, most notably at home by Nigel Farage, despite the Ukip leader being very much an elected politician for nearly 20 years now.
The US public has sat and watched - for the best part of the last six years of Obama’s presidency - as the Republican controlled Senate and House of Representatives has done its utmost to do nothing at all.
Blocking Obama from enacting legislation at nearly every turn, the Republican party is largely responsible for the dire approval ratings of Congress, below 30 per cent for the past few years and hitting the lofty heights of just 11 per cent with pollsters Gallup in November.
Americans are, frankly, sick of politicians, so when an outspoken candidate comes along who wears his lack of experience of holding elected office as a badge of honour is it any real surprise that they are popular?
The Trump candidacy is therefore a product of the Republican party’s own making, the seeds of which were sown with another brash, outspoken, candidate – Sarah Palin.
Palin was plucked from relative obscurity to be John McCain’s running mate in his contest against the soon to be elected Obama in 2008. That defeat to Obama infuriated the far right of the party and the series of events that now sees Trump in pole position to get the Republican nomination were set in motion shortly after he was sworn in – all led by Palin.
In an effort to cash in on her new found fame, Palin made increasingly divisive statements to the media, formed her own political action committee with the goal of supporting candidates who "believe in the right things", and was a keynote speaker at the first Tea Party movement gathering.
The Tea Party, in turn, is responsible for flooding congress with idealist and often inexperienced politicians who are, however, immensely popular for their staunchly conservative held views on core Republican issues such as gun control, abortion, and immigration – dragging the party narrative further to the right than at any point in recent memory.
It is with his views on immigration during the Presidential campaign in particular that has garnered Trump worldwide attention and countless hours of free TV airtime, which has served to only further fuel his popularity with Republican voters.
Highly visible and already popular from TV shows and beauty pageants, a non-politician in a time when politician are loathed as never before and complete with outspoken views that chime with the most motivated group of voters in the party, Trump now looks set to win the Republican nomination for President after seven Super Tuesday victories.
No one should be surprised.