Donald Trump has single-handedly sucked up all of the oxygen in the Republican race of 17 candidates who want to be the next president.
Media is scratching their collective head over the Trump effect.
But is the real story of this election so far not about who Trump is a candidate, but who he is not?
He was called a clown, a sideshow, a distraction. Yet billionaire Trump is not just leading in every national poll on the Republican side—he is dominating.
In fact, the latest Gravis Marketing poll out of Iowa shows Trump polling at 30 percent. That’s twice the support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—Trump’s closest rivals in Iowa.
And he is doing the same thing nationally with as much as five times the support of the seven of the top 10 candidates.
That’s despite Trump’s comments on immigrants:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
And his comments about Sen. John McCain:
“He’s a war hero because he was captured,” he said. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
In spite of these comments, Trump’s candidacy is thriving.
What about on the Democratic side of the race to 2016?
Most media has fixated on Hillary Clinton as the likely nominee and she is leading in every poll. But the Democratic candidate who is on the rise with enthusiastic support is Sen. Bernie Sanders.
It’s visibly apparent in photographs of Sanders’ rallies that he has drawn the largest crowds of the race so far: 10,000 people packing in to see him in Wisconsin, 11,000 in Phoenix and 8,000 in Dallas.
Plus, polling in New Hampshire has Sanders climbing to 36 percent compared to Clinton’s 45 percent.
So who is he?
Maybe the more important question right now is who he and Trump are not.
In fact, up until five years ago, nearly all of Trump’s political donations went to Democrats. In 1990 he told Playboy that if he were to run for office he would do better as a Democrat than as a Republican.
Bernie Sanders isn’t even a Democrat. The senator from Vermont is the longest-serving Independent in the history of the U.S. Congress. And he calls himself a socialist. He is just running for the Democratic nomination.
But here’s the thing: right now voters don’t seem to care.
And that’s what you need to know.
A recent NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll shows that for the first time in modern history there are nearly as many registered Independents in America as there are Republicans and Democrats combined. That doesn’t take into account 7-8 percent of voters who are registered in minor parties.
The two major parties are hemorrhaging support.
Look, it’s a long race. And who knows who will come out on top. But what cannot be ignored by the two major parties or by media is that the secret to what is happening with Trump and Sanders might not be a big secret. Despite being on polar ends of the spectrum politically, they do have one thing in common:
“The top person can’t be bought. I’m worth far too much money. I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m not running with anybody’s money,” Trump told Anderson Cooper during an interview with CNN. “. . . I see Bush with the lobbyists and he’s sitting there with all these people, they are totally telling him what to do like a little puppet, and the same with Hillary and the same with everybody else.”
“…we want a fundamental change in the politics of this country so that government works for all of us and not a handful of wealthy campaign contributors,” Sanders said at a campaign event in Minnesota last month.
The message from these two candidates is that most resonating—they both insist that the political system is rigged, for a few powerful people and against the majority of Americans.
At the end of the day, whether people like these two guys as individuals or not, on that issue, most Americans agree with them.
Watch a CNN interview with Sanders here: