Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, in Clive, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, in Clive, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Mitch McAndrew | mmcandrew@uiowa.edu

It all started with an escalator ride on Fifth Avenue in New York last summer.

Over a year later, and Donald Trump has baffled pundits, pollsters, and opponents to become the Republican Party’s ticket topper, receiving more primary votes than any other GOP presidential candidate on his way.

The New York real estate mogul and reality TV star’s hard line stance on immigration, staunch opposition to international trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and resistance to political correctness has resonated with millions of Americans frustrated with politics as usual— inside and out of the Republican Party.

Donald Trump Age: 70 Hometown: Queens, New York Education: Fordham University, University of Pennsylvania Family: wife, Melania; five children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, and Barron

Donald Trump
Age: 70
Hometown: Queens, New York
Education: Fordham University, University of Pennsylvania
Family: wife, Melania; five children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, and Barron

“Trump tapped into something that was unseen by a lot of more traditional politicians— that people feel the country isn’t going as they want,” said Tim Hagle, a University of Iowa political-science professor, after Trump’s “gloom and doom” national convention speech.

Dissatisfaction in the U.S. is rampant. One Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Oct. 10 found that 65 percent of Americans believe the country is “on the wrong track.”

Trump’s campaign for the Oval Office has been controversial from the very beginning.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said during his June 16 announcement bid at Trump Tower in New York. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

This would not be the last time Trump stirred the pot with his comments.

He has since called for a total ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S., advocated waterboarding and killing terrorists’ families, suggested that then-rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father helped Lee Harvey Oswald kill President John Kennedy, mocked a disabled reporter, and suggested Arizona Sen. John McCain was a “dummy” for getting captured during the Vietnam War, among other things.

Such provocative remarks would become Trump’s trademark, and Republican primary voters soon responded in kind to his “tell it like it is” rhetoric.

donald-issues

Just a month after his announcement, Trump surpassed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to take the lead in the national primary polls. Trump kept this lead for most of the remaining Republican primary.

After he cruised to the Republican nomination, Trump set his sites on closing the sizable gap between him and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

According to an aggregate poll tracker from Real Clear Politics, Clinton had a 10-point lead on Trump in mid-April.

But Trump quickly gained traction in the polls, closing the gap and even surpassing Clinton in May and July. However, Clinton has maintained a lead in the Real Clear Politics aggregate poll since her Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.