1. I have no clue and neither does any other so called pundit.
This explanation requires there to be a gigantic disconnect between the perceived political condition of our country and the real state of affairs. It would make sense that a well educated, slightly self important person of the liberal persuasion might, in their tasteful upscale world, never encounter a single actual Trump supporter. It is a little less plausible that a conservative guy living here in "moo-cow flyover country" would never have met one. Yet....such people manifestly exist and in substantial numbers. I have considered, and you should too, the alarming possibility that nobody in a position of power in our political and media establishments has any idea whatsoever what the Hell is going on.
It is swell to think, as I have for the last six months, that the Trump phenomena is simply an uncouth mirage. But I am reminded of a passage from C.S. Lewis' Perelandra. The narrator has just had an extremely frightening encounter and notes that:
"To think that the spectre you see is an illusion does not rob him of his terrors: it simply adds the further terror of madness itself-and then on top of that the horrible surmise that those whom the rest call mad have, all along, been the only people who see the world as it really is."
But if you insist on seeking logic in this world I would put forth an alternative explanation.
2. This is all an Experiment gone Horribly Wrong.
I am not sure that the discipline that calls itself "Political Science" is really science of any sort. In physics you do calculations and determine that if you drop a rock it will land uncomfortably on your foot at a specific velocity and in an accurately reckoned time frame. PoliSci thinkers tend to start their thought process with "Ouch" and work backwards to why their foot hurts.
But if you wanted things to make sense....
Donald Trump is not really a Republican. Or a Democrat. His political philosophy seems founded on the twin pillars of avarice and ego, features that are quite bipartisan really. It would be easy to imagine him getting a phone call along the lines of:
"Hey, Donald! ____________, here. How'd ya like to have a little fun this political season? Run for President! No, really! You could be as obnoxious as you want. Say any damn thing that pops into your head. You won't even have to work that hard or spend much money, the Press will wet themselves in excitement every time you speak. Aw, 'cmon, it will be fun. Well of course I want something. You just go out there and soak up all the media air time so that ___________ who we really worry about has no chance in the Republican primary. That should give us the nomination/general election win."
This is of course an extremely cynical theory, and so with respect to politics, all the more plausible. It works equally well if the crony on the other end of the phone was Bill and Hillary Clinton (and they apparently did chat a little prior to his announcement) or any of the long shot Republican contenders. The principle - or lack of principles maybe - is the same. Just stink up the Establishment Republican brand so badly before you flame out so that our guy, or our gal, cruises serenely into the Oval Office.
But sometimes Experiments go Wrong. Frankenstein turns on his Creator and when he faces the peasant mobs they are holding not only torches and pitchforks but TRUMP! signs.
Another parallel would be releasing an aggressive organism into the wild to perform some specific mission and then go away. You have a few weeds in your cornfield? Here, lets just open these crates marked Hungry Locust Swarm. That should work out well.
Ah, but could anyone really create an intentionally obnoxious persona, unleash it on the world and then be surprised by it attaining fame and popularity?
I can think of one example, and it even has some eerie ties to Mr. Trump.
The 1980s were a Golden Age - and no doubt the last one - for newspaper comics. One of the best was called Bloom County. The creator of same was a fellow named Berkely Breathed. Breathed seems to have had some animosity towards fellow cartoonist Jim Davis and his main character Garfield. A reasonable attitude given the fact that Garfield and his lazy boss have been raking in huge bucks from merchandising and have not had an original idea in decades. Breathed decided to create a parody of Garfield that would be so vile, so disgusting and so bereft of redeeming qualities that he would have no commercial potential whatsoever. Thus was born the immortal character of Bill the Cat.
Barely sentient, able to gargle out only a few guttural noises between coughing up hairballs, smelly and flea ridden Bill the Cat was said to have been sprung from an experimental lab where his brain had been replaced by Tater Tots. He used drugs, drank, sold secrets to the Russians, started a rock band with Satanist themes.....and became the defining feature of Mr. Breathed's cartoon universe.
Of course Bill loved politics, it would suck him in like a fetid whirlpool. He ran for President twice losing badly each time. Towards the end of the strip's run Bill had Donald Trump's brain transplanted into his leprous body.
So lets review. Mangy orange pelt? Check. Disgusting things coming out of his mouth? Check. Impervious to any efforts to change him for the better? Check. Long shot run for President? Check. Implausible success despite being utterly revolting? We will have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, with apologies here is an image that once seen you cannot unsee:
If those who we call mad have indeed been all along the only ones to see the world as it really is we might be in for one bizarre Inauguration party in January of 2017.