TULSA, Oklahoma — Donald Trump's rise to the top of the Republican Party's presidential field may confound the party's old guard but for many of those who attend his packed-house rallies, the business mogul's position as an "outsider in his own party" is a big part of why his campaign resonates with them.
Voters like James Hanning, who at times leapt from his seat with enthusiasm at a rally in Tulsa Wednesday, say making the Republican establishment uncomfortable is what's needed right now.
"The old-school way of thinking is part of the problem" he says.
The 45-year-old father of three from Wagoner says "the national GOP better take a hard look at what's being said right now because I think the people are speaking out right now, the people are saying 'hey, we need to be telling you how this party is going to be run not the other way around.' "
Hanning says he and those who have joined what Trump calls "a movement" are a different type of Republican.
Sarah Palin, often ostracized within her own party, legitimized how Hanning and the other newly invigorated Republicans say they feel when she told the crowd at Oral Roberts University: "Now it's funny to be here in OK, here in the land of red dirt, you know with your red, red trees. And here we got a red head from the big red apple running for president, and yet the GOP machine all of a sudden they're saying 'we're not red enough, we're not conservative enough' and I say what in the world do they know about conservatism?"
Kevin Wagner, associate professor of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University says "the most interesting development in this election cycle is how little control the traditional party establishment has had on the process."
But appealing to like-minded "outsiders" within the Republican Party is one thing says Wagner. Getting these new-found Republicans within the Republican Party to do more than attend a rally is another. "It is not at all certain that the enthusiasm of some of these new voters is sustainable through what is likely to be a long and difficult election cycle" says Wagner.
The phenomenon that is a Trump rally is part politics, part group momentum, but also part "Reality TV celebrity."
One attendee, Lauri White said with a wry smile, "honestly, some people were excited to see Madonna, and I wanted to see Trump, so here I am."