ABC The Drum

By Amy Sherden

US political watcher Tom Switzer says presidential hopeful Donald Trump shouldn't be dismissed as the likely nominee for the Republican Party's tilt at the White House in next year's election.

"We need to start taking him more seriously," he told ABC's The Drum.

The foreign policy analyst and research associate with the United States Studies Centre says that most seasoned observers have been writing Mr Trump off.

"He defies the predictions his campaign will collapse."

Mr Trump was the centre of attention in the second Republican presidential debate but this time he was taking hits from his fellow candidates, as well as dishing it out.

With more than a year until election day, Mr Trump remains the preferred candidate for the Republican nomination among GOP voters, with a range of polls giving him about 30 per cent of the vote.

The next closest candidate, another non-politician, retired neurosurgeon Dr Ben Carson, is polling at about 20 per cent while all other candidates, including Jeb Bush, who was expected to emerge as a frontrunner, are rating below 10 per cent among Republican voters.

But Mr Switzer says the gap will begin to close, putting Mr Trump at a disadvantage.

"There are 16 candidates right now and as the candidates narrow, that will probably hurt Trump," he said.

Mr Trump's stubborn popularity with voters has unsettled the Republican party establishment, which is shifting its support between Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and the current senator of Florida, Marco Rubio.

Mr Switzer says the establishment or power brokers within the Republican movement may unite to knock Mr Trump out of the running.

"I think he will get smashed by the negative attack ads and the establishment will get their act together and blow him out early next year," he said.

"But if he prevails, I think he will be a loose cannon.

"He would debase politics further in the United States but in fairness, he is representing the thoughts and attitudes of a significant segment of folks disoriented by the pace of the radical socioeconomic change, like Pauline Hanson here."

Mr Trump has signed a pledge vowing not to run as an independent if he fails to win the Republican nomination.

Mr Switzer puts Mr Trump's popularity amongst Republican voters down to his being an outsider.

"They don't like the insiders, they don't like the establishment," he said.

"You have to remember the broad cross section of the American people, according to a lot of the polling data, show they are in a foul mood; they think their country's heading in the wrong direction."

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