“For people who believe their own establishment has been basically humiliated and taken to the cleaners repeatedly by Barack Obama, a guy who says ‘You tap me on the shoulders and I’ll cut your legs off’ gets attention,” he said.

Ornstein offered several scenarios that could cause Trump to fall, including losing Iowa and New Hampshire. “If he goes through a period where he’s not the front-runner he could get frustrated and hang it up.” But he’s not betting on a collapse, and he’s not alone.

Apart from recent polls placing him second to Carson in Iowa and (within the margin of error) nationally, Trump has enjoyed comfortable leads nationally and in the early states of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Nationally, Republican voters view Trump as their most electable candidate in a general election, according to an Associated Press/GfK poll released Sunday.

“Anybody who thinks Donald Trump cannot be the Republican nominee is smoking something,” said Schmidt. He noted that Trump has led in major polls for more than 100 days—more time than is left until Iowa voters cast the first ballots of the primary—and that his path to the nomination is clear if his large lead translates to getting the most votes and delegates. “What was once described as a spring fling or a summer romance is lingering well past Halloween and into November.”