Donald Trump, as I tell anyone who asks, defies virtually every political rule I thought I knew.
There's no better encapsulation of Trump's up-is-down-and-down-is-up effect on presidential politics than a new number from the just-released NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
The question asked is a simple one: Could you see yourself supporting [fill in the blank candidate] for the Republican nomination for president? When NBC/WSJ first asked GOP voters that question about Trump last March, fewer than one in four (23 percent) said they could see themselves voting for him.
To say that things have changed since then is an understatement on the level of saying Tom Brady is a pretty decent quarterback. Witness this chart built by the indispensable Philip Bump.
It's hard to overstate how remarkable it is that the number of Republicans who could see themselves backing a Trump nomination rose 42 — FORTY TWO — percentage points in 10 months. It's all the more remarkable when you consider that Trump was already totally known by the GOP electorate last spring, meaning that his gains since that time are almost entirely the result of him changing peoples' minds. And it's something else entirely when you consider how Trump got here — a mixture of bravado and anger sprinkled with a dose of controversial statements and seeming gaffes that would have felled lesser candidate many times over.
Trump's improvement on the "could you see yourself voting for him" question is amazing enough in a vacuum. When you compare his rise on the question to, say, how Jeb Bush has fared on it, you begin to appreciate the true remarkableness of what Trump has done. Again, this chart comes courtesy of Philip Bump.
If you need a single chart that tells the fact-really-is-stranger-than-fiction story of the Republican race to date, that's it.
What a race. I can't even begin to wonder what's coming next month when voters actually start voting.