And in the past 24 years since David Duke’s victory in the 1991 Louisiana Governor’s race, we have almost never seen Republican primary voters actually choose a candidate anything like Trump. By “anything like Trump” I mean a candidate who
(1) Had never before run for or held elective office
(2) Had a long and recent history of aligning by positions, donations, endorsements, and other affiliations with liberals and Democrats; and
(3) Deployed rhetoric and a public persona so incendiary as to horrify and embarrass the party establishment.
The most recent GOP primary, in Louisiana in November 2015, was won by a sitting GOP Senator of wholly conventional conservative-but-establishment cast. The 2014 primaries were won by so many establishment-backed candidates that people routinely openly speculated that the Tea Party was dead. Mitch McConnell won over 60% of the vote in his primary against a Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin, last year. And Bevin came back and won the primary and general elections for Governor by building on the credibility from a prior campaign and being a (somewhat) more disciplined candidate – in other words, by becoming a more professional politician. Candidates who seem kind of Trump-ish mostly won under unusual circumstances – Arnold Schwarzenegger got elected in a statewide multi-candidate multi-party recall, and Jesse Ventura ran as an independent.