Polling continues to show a surge for anti-establishment candidates with Donald Trump holding a commanding lead in the GOP primary. Some experts are amazed at the billionaire's ability to completely flip previously unfavorable ratings to favorable, all largely without relying on paid media. As The Wall Street Journal pointed out, Donald Trump dominated Sunday news shows last week without even appearing on any program.
Trump leads too with Evangelicals, with Jeremiah Johnson "prophetically" calling him "God's trumpet to the American people."
As Trump rises in popularity and the polls, angst among GOP insiders grows. Supreme insiders like Washington Post columnist George Will are not amused with Trump's rise and are quick to predict doom for Republicans.
Meanwhile, Trump's campaign continues to argue that if he is treated fairly by the GOP he will not bolt for a third party or damage the Republican brand. And while it's still early, most Republicans now feel Trump will win the GOP nomination.
Here are three theories on the rise of the Trump phenomenon:
Master of Persuasion
Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip calls Trump the "Clown Genius." Adams argues Trump's mastery skills at persuasion and branding are everywhere in his campaign.
"And what about Trump's habit of bluster and self-complimenting? Every time he opens his mouth he is saying something about the Trump brand being fabulous or amazing or great," wrote Adams.
"The rational part of your brain thinks this guy is an obnoxious, exaggerating braggart. But the subconscious parts of your brain (the parts that make most of your decisions) only remember that something about that guy was fabulous, amazing and great."
Adams, who has written extensively on the Trump rise at his blog, believes he is alone among pundits and writers in predicting that Trump will not only win the GOP nomination, but easily win the general election.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, says, "Trump is tapping into the spirit and power of positive thinking that pervades the teachings of modern cultural evangelists like Oprah Winfrey and Joel Osteen."
LaBerge argues that Trump captures the Protestant Work Ethic construct first described by German philosopher Max Weber and made popular through America's "can do spirit."
"Trump remembers this as pastor [Norman Vincent] Peale's philosophy, but most today know it by its echoes in the 'health and wealth gospel,'" she wrote.
"If you listen, you can hear it in almost every line of Trump's 'I'll make America great again' platform. It resonates with the innate desire within every human to rise, be raised, and live a life that is worthy of their calling."
Leader of the Selfie Age
"Donald Trump might be the apt president for the selfie age. This is not a good thing," wrote Wallace Henley in a three-part opinion piece for the The Christian Post.
Henley believes that Trump is essentially a self-absorbed narcissist, similar to the president that Henley once worked for — Richard Nixon. The popular candidate is the quintessential Nimrod, who rebelled against God and was an architect of the Tower of Babel, he wrote.
"We need, not a tower-builder for president, but one who himself or herself resides under that 'high tower' of the transcendent God," argues Henley.
In another CP op-ed, Ken Conner, former president of Family Research Council, had a similar assessment, referring to Trump as an "egomaniacal blowhard."
"Famously known for his "Art of the Deal" and the Apprentice's "your fired!" tagline, Trump is a master of self-promotion. He takes seriously American author Damon Runyon's statement, "He who tooteth not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted." Indeed, when it comes to trumpeting his achievements, none of the candidates has the capacity to out-trumpet Mr. Trump," he wrote.