Americans; how surprised are you by Trump's success?

He is looking more and more likely to be the GOP nominee. How surprised are you by how far he has come and why are you so?

Not surprised at all. He’s got a strong, confident personality. As much as we like to imagine it’s about the “issues”, there are a lot of voters who base their decision more on that than anything else. It’s why Gore and Kerry (with personalities like wet cardboard) lost to W, and McCain and Romney lost to the charismatic and funny Obama.

It’s also why Hillary will probably lose to him if he in fact gets the nom.

Very surprised. I’m an American who has lived in various parts of the country; I’ve always been politically involved; and I happen to be teaching a university course in political geography. I am from the New York metro area (teenager in the 80s) – heck, I even subscribed to Spy magazine back in the “short-fingered vulgarian” days – so I’m familiar with Trump.

And, again, I’m very surprised. Several million American racists came out of the woodwork in 2008 – that was disappointing, but not too surprising. But who are these millions of Americans coming out of the woodwork today? I honestly have no idea. “Low-information” seems too kind. These people manage to tie their shoes each morning, so what is it? Darned if I know.

I’m very surprised; outsider candidates are usually forced to run as a 3rd party because there’s really no nomination path for them through the primary election process. Until Trump. He’s been able to get people to turn up for primary elections that they wouldn’t ordinarily have cared about, and for some reason the Republican machine was too slow to react.

Completely gobsmacked. Never thought that clown would make it this far. I mean, he’s even proven wrong the one guy who barely ever gets elections wrong: Nate Silver. I can’t see how anyone could say they’re “not surprised” by his rise.

I shouldn’t be surprised but I am. In retrospect, I think I should have realized that Americans prefer someone who is wrong at the top of his lungs to a thoughtful person who speaks in measured correctness. It may not be true in the general election, but Republican primary voters seem to be suckers for brash confidence.

The appeal to racism doesn’t surprise me. Republicans have responded quite well to dog whistles for years, when someone comes right out and says what others only imply is seen as refreshing honesty. Hence the rallying around anti-“political correctness”, a euphemism for not having any manners.

I’m more surprised that he is apparently in it to win it rather than in it for an ego boost and to improve book sales, not to mention ratings for his TV show.

That he’s actually doing well having stayed in the race is not terribly surprising. There’s a ton of low-information voters (on both sides, this is not a jab at Republicans) who basically vote with their gut for the person that’s confident, proud, and unapologetic. Trump has those qualities in spades. Things like telling the truth and actual policy are distant considerations.

I’m astonished. Honestly, I think Trump is too.

I’m very surprised, pretty much the same as I would be if Dees Nutz was leading the pack at this point.

Charisma and marketing matter. Who really debates fine details between Coke and Pepsi? The average IQ is <=100. You honestly think logic trumps rhetoric for the population at large? Why you think class warfare politics are so successful even though what they accomplish are enriching China and ensuring dependency?

Having watched Idiocracy, I’m not surprised at all.

not that surprised: this is the guy who sells millions of books, got millions of people to watch him on television (and his movie cameos), and gets millions of people to spend most of their week’s pay in his hotels and then blow the rest in his casinos.

Hell yes, I’m surprised. I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I’ve been following politics since the 1964 primaries. It’s like the guy has the political equivalent of an anti-gravity machine. How could I not be surprised?

Very surprised based on 6 months ago, but not so surprised since December or so.

Not terribly surprised; deeply disappointed is more like it. There is a long history of anti-intellectualism in this country, and to people who feel that way, Mr. Trump is a poster boy for the notion that there are relatively simple answers to all the big questions, that the current political setup promotes inertia in favor of corporate fat cats (to some extent I agree) and that a third-world style Strong Man is needed to shake things up.

Lastly, in other election cycles, a Trump-like figure may not have gotten as much traction as he has this time around, but a decided lack of compelling statesmen among the competition, shall we say, has left an opening that Mr. Trump has exploited rather well.

First, completely surprised.

Second, after watching his campaign for the last several months, it’s not racists, it’s not low intellects, it’s not the lack of compelling statesmen. It is fear. His major demographic pull is working class whites and he is tapping into their fear. And he is pulling them to the polls in ways that haven’t been seen in decades. These people fear loss of their livelihood, the loss of their children’s and grandchildren’s livelihood. Whether it is fear of their jobs or their children’s jobs being taken by illegal immigrants. Fear of those jobs being moved overseas by big corporations. Fear of terrorists attacks. Fear of America forever losing what it once was. There is a core of Americans that are nostalgic. They fear those times may be forever gone. He is appealing to them and they are responding. Look at the slogan on this campaign button. Sound familiar? Hillary and her supporters should be careful about being overconfident.

But why is that? There have been all the jokes about the clown car, but really, none of the Republican candidates have jumped out as someone who really inspires. No-one but Trump has caught fire.

Why is that this electoral cycle? Normally, the best time to run for the presidency is when the other party is finishing 8 years in the White House, so you would expect that this cycle would have attracted the best and brightest the Republicans have.

Why didn’t it this time?

Or, did it, and this is the best and brightest the Republicans have on tap?

Very surprised.

When he first got into the race I was sure it was just a passing vanity project for him. When he started gaining support, I figured his ceiling was low. With every passing crazy thing he said, I was certain his support would collapse. I’m not surprised that some Americans like Trump’s mix of authoritarianism, aggression, xenophobia, and fatuous screaming. I’m surprised that so many do. I had hoped that a strongman promising to make us great through a program of racial/religious discrimination and national control of industry wouldn’t get very far here. My optimism was misplaced. Like Lily Tomlin said, no matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up.

If you’d told me a year ago Donald Trump would be in the position he’s in, I would not have been surprised. He’s been a rich, powerful, famous figure in America for decades. He’s got the money, connections and name to get this far even if he’d run a vanilla campaign.

What has surprised me along the way is the number of stumbles, gaffes, and antics that he’s been able to not only overcome, but somehow leverage as an advantage. Seriously, it took Howard Dean one crazy scream and he was toast. Trump is winning with Bizarro World politics.

That. He’s been ahead for long enough that he now actually sees himself as presidential timber, and so do a strong plurality of the party’s voter base.

But he’d still be a sideshow if they’d had a strong, respectable, “electable” candidate, unquestionably qualified for the job, instead of the pack of backbenchers that the party stalwarts have had to hope would grow into the job. The surprising thing to me isn’t Trump’s endurance, but a major party’s hollowness at the top. And even that isn’t surprising given the anti-government, anti-leadership, anti-anything stance they’ve taken for a number of years now. There’s been no room for anyone sane and responsible to become a leader there - and if Trump weren’t the result of that, some other blowhard would be.