The anti-establishment Republican frontrunner

It’s a different time with different players, but what has transpired so far would be a little like George W. Bush struggling against Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes in 2000.

Usually, other candidates measure themselves by the yardstick of the establishment front-runner. How do they match up against him? How can they exploit his vulnerabilities? Can they benefit by getting into a fight with him now, or ambush him further down the line? In this race, it has often seemed that the most important strategic decision a candidate can make is deciding how to react to Trump.

Usually, the establishment front-runner gets disproportionate media attention by virtue of his strong position in the polls and the belief that he really could be president someday. Thanks to his media skills and his ratings, Trump gets this kind of press attention — and much, much more.

Usually, insurgent candidates cluster on the right and cannibalize one another’s support, while a center-right establishment candidate consolidates the broad middle of the party. This time is different. With the rise of the outsiders, the field has been divided between political neophytes and everyone else — with everyone else, including Bush, fighting and clawing for running room the way the insurgents usually do.