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The 69-year-old businessman's outrageous rhetoric and colorful past blinded many political observers to his populist appeal. In the days leading up to his official campaign launch, however, he rocketed into second place in the polls, behind only former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an establishment figure many assumed would sail to the nomination with little turbulence.
By July 20, however, Trump had surpassed even Bush, and he consistently led every candidate in crowded GOP field, remaining in the top slot except for a brief dip on Nov. 15, when retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson glided past him for an almost imperceptible moment.
Trump and Clinton are currently neck and neck in the polls. With six months until Election Day, only one thing is certain: It's about to get ugly.