WHEN Donald Trump declared on June 16 that he was running for the Republican nomination for president, many in his party thought it was a joke.
Yet for five months he has dominated polls and, with fewer than 60 days until the first primary vote in Iowa, his lead is growing.
Now the party is having to think the unthinkable – the maverick billionaire businessman may well be its White House nominee.
At the Monmouth University Polling Institute, director Patrick Murray said: “The Republican Party needs to understand this is a real phenomenon. This is not going away.
“People who write him off, who think his supporters will vote for someone more credible, are totally misunderstanding the motivation of his supporters.”
He said a quarter of Republican voters “hold the Republican leadership in complete contempt”.
“They have had it, they’re fed up. They’re making a clear statement.”
A CNN poll released on Friday gave Trump his biggest lead yet, 36% support among Republicans, more than double Texas Senator Ted Cruz, on 16%.
Retired neurosurgeon Dr Ben Carson fell to 14% and Florida Senator Marco Rubio was on 12%.
Even more significant for Trump was that 52% of Republicans believed he had the best chance of beating the Democrats.