After swallowing a hard loss in Iowa to Texas Senator Ted Cruz earlier this month, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump emerged victorious from last night's primary in New Hampshire — with nobody, not even Florida Senator Marco Rubio, nipping at his heels.

Nearly 90 per cent of precincts reported that Trump had won 35 per cent of the vote, placing him well ahead of second-place finisher Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who had just under 16 per cent. 

Cruz, Jeb Bush and Rubio rounded out the top five within just 3,000 votes of each other, effectively dashing the Republican establishment's hopes that a clear alternative to the brash billionaire would emerge out of last night's events.

Despite a steady torrent of public criticism — and the fact that he's never run for office under the banner of a major party — Trump is still the Republican front-runner in 2016's U.S. presidential election.

Why?

It's a question that many have been asking since the beginning of Trump's campaign, and one that continues to puzzle both critics and casual observers as new reports of the real estate magnate's political success (and controversial behaviour) emerge.

We asked CBC audience members to weigh in on the results of New Hampshire's primary, and to let us know why they think Trump continues to lead the polls, in today's CBC Forum — a live, hosted discussion about topics of national interest.

Below are some of their best and most insightful responses.

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the username to see the complete comment in the blog format.)
 

On why Trump has been doing so well in the race thus far

  • "Trump is leading the GOP race because he is a highly recognizable and charismatic figure that channels the anger and frustration of right wing blue collar Americans who want to change the status quo. Trump's motto of 'make America great again' is the perfect rallying cry for conservative followers where everything is always better at some arbitrary point 'back in the day.'" — Tarmax
  • ​"I would argue that he's saying things that people like to hear, even if he's a particularly rowdy sort of fellow. He also makes large and powerful statements — regardless of the controversy or fallout thereof — which attracts attention and serves to make him more popular as every outlet, including ones that don't like him, just continue to give him attention." — Houraisan
  • "Trump's success is easy to understand. What he says appeals to that vast majority of Americans who are fed up with the political establishment. They don't have computers or iPhones or drink lattes or read leftist newspapers; they're NOT like you. They're mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore." — Trump's

Hope and change 2.0?

  • "Trump is the GOP version of Obama. People were sick of Bush and went with him. Now people are sick of Obama and are enticed by the new guy that is all sizzle and no steak." — political junkie
  • "It's evident that the U.S has become a deeply politically, socially, polarized nation. Of course, it always has been in many ways, but the rise of Donald Trump and also Bernie Sanders is the inevitable outcome of this. It also relates to the growing disparity between rich and poor, religious and secular, and also a shrinking middle class." — Robert King
  • "I would say that a lot of people are fed up with the lies and lack of accountability of the political system. Trump is coming not from a political background but a business one. People are hoping for change and will be attracted to anything that is not a status quo option." — Adam M
  • "Trump is saying what many Americans are thinking. They are looking for change with someone who is plain talking, brash and funny." — Paul Sloan
  • "The thing about Trump is that he is refreshing from a political perspective. Some of his ideas are way on the fringe or distasteful, but some of his more mainstream ideas actually sound plausible if you stop and put aside your judgment for a few minutes." — slike​

The role of celebrities in American culture

  • "Americans operate under a different sensibility than Canadians. They like movie stars for politicians and politicians who counterfeit as celebrities and create a 'hopeful' fervour of some sort. Donald Trump does that for them." — nogreenspace​
  • "Trump comes in with the name of a reality TV star and speaks his mind, goes off the cuff, is intentionally provocative, and people believe that he is a sound business manager. When you factor that against the obvious lack of appeal in Cruz and Rubio, it's a no-brainer that Trump would lead the GOP primaries thus far." — Douglas Drouin
  • "Todays' NY Daily News called New Hampshire voters who supported Trump 'mindless zombies.' Remember Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessie Ventura — all media stars elected by the same mindless zombies? Fame beats brain anytime." — SC snowbird

You can read the full discussion below, or by clicking here.