Donald Trump+Jorge Ramos

Donald Trump and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos face off in Dubuque, Iowa, Aug. 25. Photo: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

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Peggy Noonan

By Peggy Noonan
Aug. 27, 2015 – 6:41 p.m. ET

  • Donald Trump’s staying power in the polls reflects a change in the electorate only now coming into focus.

So, more thoughts on Donald Trump’s candidacy, because I can’t stop being fascinated.

You know the latest numbers. Quinnipiac University’s poll this week has Mr. Trump at a hefty 28% nationally, up from 20% in July. Public Policy Polling has Mr. Trump leading all Republicans in New Hampshire with 35%. A Monmouth University poll has him at 30% in South Carolina, followed 15 points later by Ben Carson.

Here are some things I think are happening.

One is the deepening estrangement between the elites and the non-elites in America. This is the area in which Trumpism flourishes. We’ll talk about that deeper in.

Second, Mr. Trump’s support is not limited to Republicans, not by any means.

Third, the traditional mediating or guiding institutions within the Republican universe—its establishment, respected voices in conservative media, sober-minded state party officials—have little to no impact on Mr. Trump’s rise. Some say voices of authority should stand up to oppose him, which will lower his standing. But Republican powers don’t have that kind of juice anymore. Mr. Trump’s supporters aren’t just bucking a party, they’re bucking everything around, within and connected to it.

Since Mr. Trump announced I’ve worked or traveled in, among other places, Southern California, Connecticut, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey and New York’s Long Island. In all places I just talked to people. My biggest sense is that political professionals are going to have to rethink “the base,” reimagine it when they see it in their minds.

I’ve written before about an acquaintance—late 60s, northern Georgia, lives on Social Security, voted Obama in ’08, not partisan, watches Fox News, hates Wall Street and “the GOP establishment.” She continues to be so ardent for Mr. Trump that she not only watched his speech in Mobile, Ala., on live TV, she watched while excitedly texting with family members—middle-class, white, independent-minded—who were in the audience cheering. Is that “the Republican base”? I guess maybe it is, because she texted me Wednesday to say she’d just registered Republican. I asked if she’d ever been one before. Reply: “No, never!!!”

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