Donald Trump's understanding of political campaigning as "essentially a marketing problem," the phrase David Reid used in his 1988 article, "Marketing the Political Product," is often overlooked. His success is one that is unique and unseen in the history of our political process and while others may have come close to being a "political phenomenon," Trump is the definiendum of the phrase.
The Republican front-runner relies heavily on his own intuitive feel, typically making statements and giving speeches extemporaneously, wooing his excited and dedicated supporters with common concepts and themes. He prides himself on his reductionist approach and ability to avoid the complexities of politics. As Karl Mannheim noted in 1936, voters are willing to suspend their own criticisms, questions or concerns about the veracity of a candidate if the complexities of politics are turned into simple themes — which Trump has done brilliantly.
He has identified a dedicated and loyal base of supporters who may be different in many ways, but have one common identifier: their anger and distrust of the establishment and political class. To his supporters, Trump is the antithesis of an image project by the political class, one that supposedly centers on voters but is only fundamentally concerned with the interest of the elites.
Many voters, Democrats and Republicans alike, feel abandoned by their respective parties. As it relates to the GOP in particular, many see the party elites as manipulators, willing to discredit anyone who attempts to critique them. From some voters' perspective, no sufficient efforts have been made to assess those individuals critically; at least, not until Trump came along. And to no surprise, the establishment is vehemently resisting Trump's presence.