You might call it the rise and the rise of Donald Trump.
With his poll numbers at an all-time high and fresh off an expectedly dominant Super Tuesday performance, it’s time to come to terms with the reality that Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee for president.
Since announcing his run last June, Trump has fearmongered about immigrants, Muslims, terrorists, and black people. Rhetoric that would’ve killed the careers of “typical” politicians only made Trump more popular. In the past couple weeks he’s gotten into it with the Pope and been endorsed by the KKK, yet Republican voters show no signs of souring on him.
Despite indications they might match up better with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in a general contest, his two closest competitors are more than 30 points in the dust, and the notion one of them can catch fire at this late hour is becoming increasingly farfetched.
So as Trump celebrates more victories tonight, it’s worth looking back at a timeline highlighting his most outrageous comments, along with a look at where he polled at the time. The fact such statements didn’t tank Trump’s popularity at any point along the way reveals how Republican voters are hungry for a very different kind of candidate this cycle.
VINE: Donald Trump enters on escalator http://t.co/EGGdEhzNrH
— Jeremy Art (@cspanJeremy) June 16, 2015
June 16: After an awkward slide down an escalator, Trump announces his candidacy. During his speech, he sets a hatefully scattershot tone for his campaign by saying that Mexicans who are illegally crossing the border into the United States are “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
June 25: In response to Trump’s incendiary comments about Mexicans, Univision severs all ties with him. That includes Univision’s broadcast of the Miss USA pageant, an event Trump partially owns.
July 11: During the first major rally of his campaign in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump debuts an idea that ends up being a centerpiece of his campaign — building a border wall (at Mexico’s expense) to prevent immigrants from illegally entering the country.
On July 14, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll shows Trump atop the crowded GOP field with 17 percent support — a percentage he’s easily more than doubled since then.
July 18: At the Family Leadership Summit, Trump is widely decried for saying decorated war hero and 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain is “not a war hero” because he was captured during the Vietnam War.
But the controversy doesn’t detail Trump. A July 24 CNN/ORC poll demonstrates a phenomenon that will become a hallmark of his campaign — the media condemns him, but Trump remains on top of the pack with 18 percent support.
August 7: Trump stirs another controversy when he gets upset at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who grilled him at the first GOP debate about previous comments he made about women, including referring to them as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”
Appearing on a subsequent CNN broadcast, Trump suggests Kelly asked him “ridiculous questions” because she was on her period. Specifically, Trump says she had “blood coming out of her whatever.”
An August 18 CNN/ORG poll shows Trump still leading with 24 percent support.
August 25: Trump has Univision anchor Jorge Ramos forcibly removed from one of his press conferences. Trump sued Univision for $500 million after the network dropped coverage of his pageants.
September 9: In a Rolling Stone profile, Trump generates outrage with the following comments about Carly Fiorina, the sole woman in the GOP presidential contest: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
Another CNN/ORC poll on September 10 shows Trump still leading with 32 percent support.
September 17: Trump doesn’t object when a man at one of his rallies that says, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims… We know our current President is one… You know he’s not even an American.”
“We need this question,” Trump replies, smiling.
October 4: Trump tells ABC’s This Week that in his view, there’s nothing government can do to stop mass shootings.
“They can be sick as hell and they’re geniuses in a certain way,” Trump says. “They are going to be able to break the system.”
Trump continues to lead. A CNN/ORC poll shows that his popularity has taken a small hit since September, but he’s still on top with 27 percent support.
November 19: Trump tells an NBC reporter all American Muslims “have to be” required to registered in a database in the wake of deadly terror attacks in Paris and Beirut.
November 22: Trump retweets completely fabricated statistics claiming that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by black people, citing a “crime bureau” that does not exist. In reality, the number is 14 percent. The tweet came from a Neo-Nazi account which was using the stats to stoke racial animosity against black people.
November 27: Trump takes fire for an on-stage impression of a reporter with a congenital disability. The reporter’s employer, The New York Times, responds: “We think it’s outrageous that [Trump] would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters.”
A December 4 poll shows that Trump’s popularity is growing. He on top with 36 percent support.
December 7: Trump takes heat for his latest outrageous proposal — banning Muslims from the U.S.
December 21: Trump tells a Michigan crowd that Hillary Clinton got “schlonged” by President Obama during their 2008 Democratic primary race.
January 8: A Muslim woman is kicked out of a Trump rally in South Carolina for no reason. “There is hatred against us that is unbelievable. It’s their hatred, it’s not our hatred,” Trump says of the woman’s ejection.
January 22: A week before the primaries kick off, Trump retweets another white supremacist account, @WhiteGenocideTM, to mock Jeb Bush.
Trump’s popularity hits new heights. A CNN/ORC poll pegs him in first with 41 percent support.
February 8: At Trump’s final rally before his victory in the New Hampshire primary, Trump shocks hundreds in Manchester by repeating a slur leveled against Cruz by one of his supporters.
“He’s a pussy!” Trump says.
February 19: Trump gets into a dispute with Pope Francis after the Pope visits the U.S.-Mexico border and says, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
Trump’s campaign initially releases a statement calling the head of the Catholic Church “disgraceful” for casting aspersions on his faith. But he soon walks back his comments, telling CNN “I don’t like fighting with the pope,” and suggesting the comments were actually “much softer than originally reported.”
February 26: Trump mocks Rubio at a rally.
This election is really something special. pic.twitter.com/R24sBeOMrs
— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) February 26, 2016
February 28: During a CNN interview, Trump declines to unequivocally condemn the racism of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who endorsed him. Instead, Trumps feigns ignorance, saying, “I don’t anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t even know anything about what you’re talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”
He later explained away his controversial CNN comments by saying he was wearing a faulty earpiece during the interview.
On February 29 — the day before Super Tuesday — a CNN/ORC polls shows Trump’s popularity at a new all-time high of 49 percent.