How Trump did it
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Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE will be the Republican nominee for president.

Four years ago, had I considered that possibility, I would have spit up my food.


While his rise as a presidential candidate was only foreseen by sage seers like Ann Coulter, as we look back now, it is clear that a remarkable confluence of factors came together to deliver the most prized position in Republican politics to a reality show celebrity.

Here are the reasons Trump won the Republican nomination:

Trump is a first-tier global celebrity. It is impossible to overstate the global celebrity of Trump. For 30 years, he has graced magazine covers, had hit TV shows and been omnipresent in our lives. His TV show, "The Apprentice," made him a household name after a rough decade. The public, and the media, are obsessed with celebrity.

Trump's wealth liberated him. Trump's wealth made him appear to be tougher and smarter than traditional candidates. He wasn't forced to spend time raising money. He slept in his own bed almost the entire primary race. And he spent $40 million of his own money.

Trump's message on trade and immigration resonated. Trump correctly understood the economic anxiety of millions of middle-class Americans, and he used trade and immigration as scapegoats for their stagnant economic reality.

Trump stole the outsider mantle from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Ted Cruz says critical race theory is as racist as 'Klansmen in white sheets' Pentagon pulling 'certain forces and capabilities,' including air defenses, from Middle East MORE (Texas). Cruz expected to be the anti-establishment finalist against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks MORE (Fla.); he never expected Trump would mess up his best-laid plans.

Trump was gifted over $2 billion in earned media. Media analysts estimate that the cumulative value of all of the earned media given to Trump totaled well over $2 billion, a staggering figure. Trump's earned media advantage over Cruz was 8:1, an advantage that no candidate could make up.

The conservative and mainstream media got in bed with Trump. Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, radio host Laura Ingraham, even Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge all worshipped at the altar of Trump, either out of personal friendship and loyalty or desire to have access to him for ratings. They failed to hold him accountable for his statements, actions, contradictions and lack of policy substance. They built him up.

The GOP field was fragmented. There were 16 non-Trump candidates, and five-to-six serious non-Trump candidates through March 15. The non-Trump vote didn't coalesce early enough to stop him. Trump's high floor delivered him early wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina and across the south, and he never paid a price for his low ceiling.

The anti-Trump forces failed miserably. The constellation of anti-Trump super-PACs tried their best, but they were either insufficiently funded or strategically ineffective. I cannot recall anything they did that made a difference, with the exception of running ads that hit Trump in Wisconsin for weeks or a specific ad showing women reading nasty comments Trump had made about women.

I do not believe Trump's success is replicable.

This was a perfect storm.

Mackowiak is syndicated columnist; an Austin, Texas-based Republican consultant; and a former Capitol Hill and George W. Bush administration aide.