The surprising supporters of Donald Trump

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Media captionMany supporters of Donald Trump are women

Donald Trump's popularity has not waned since the summer. If anything, it's got stronger. But who are his supporters?

One recent opinion poll has Mr Trump receiving 41% of the national Republican vote. Now, that poll doesn't mean very much in terms of his chances of actually getting nominated, because what matters at this stage are the early primary states.

Nonetheless, it's clear, a lot of people like Donald Trump, a lot.

But who are those people? We see the rallies, with angry, ardent supporters cheering Mr Trump's more incendiary statements. We know that a majority of Republican primary voters (59% according to an ABC/Washington Post poll) also agree with his plan to ban Muslims from immigrating or travelling to America.

From the images of his rallies it may be tempting to think Mr Trump's supporters are all as extreme as he is.

There's a common misperception that all Trump voters are white, working class men. But break down the polls and you get a very different picture of a Trump follower.

Many of them are women - possibly more than half, according to some surveys. Many have college degrees, and many don't even describe themselves as particularly conservative.

So we went out to talk to a couple of Trump supporters who don't look or sound like the people you see cheering and booing at those heated rallies.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Supporters hold up signs at a Trump rally the day before the most recent debate

People like Taylar Martin, a 19-year-old student at American University in Washington DC. She calls herself a closeted Trump supporter because nearly all her friends on campus don't like him. I asked her to give me a few words to describe him.

"Passionate, driven, confident, motivated."

Taylar's studying international business, so is that what she likes about the billionaire businessman?

"Perhaps. I think I've seen him be really successful as a businessman so I'd like to see how successful he would be as a leader of the United States."

Taylar also says she likes the fact that he's not a politician, even though some of the things Trump says, she describes as "a little bit out there".

Is she thinking of his controversial proposal to ban Muslims from America? Well, Taylar is concerned about terrorism and about what she sees as a threat from Syrian refugees, but she thinks banning Muslims altogether "might be a little too extreme".

Trump supporters can also look and sound like Jeff Scrima. He has studied at Harvard, is about to start an MBA and has come to Washington to join his fiancee Kelsey, who wants to travel the world when she stops working in the Senate. Jeff describes himself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal. He used to be mayor of a town in Wisconsin.

So, what does he like about Trump?

"He's provocative, smart, confident," Jeff says and he too likes the fact that he's an outsider. "If we do what we've always done we'll always get what we've always got. So if we just go with the career politician we're going to have more polarisation in Washington."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Supporters wait at campaign rally for Donald Trump

Jeff says there is no number two or three candidate for him. No-one else evens comes close. So, what does he make of the proposed Muslim ban? To some extent Jeff gives Trump the benefit of the doubt, suggesting he made a deliberately provocative statement to get people to "lean in and listen and start talking about the issue".

But would he actually support the policy itself? No. Jeff, like Taylar, thinks that goes too far.

Jeff and Taylar are reasonable, thoughtful centrists, looking for someone who can fix America's political dysfunction.

They don't like everything Trump says, but they are committed supporters. And if he decided to leave the Republican Party, they both may well join him.