He is the presidential candidate few saw coming. His rise was baffling, dramatic, and to many, completely unexpected.

Donald Trump won more votes than any other candidate in a Republican primary in US history.

As Donald Trump takes the reins of the Republic Party, Fault Lines examines the rise of the billionaire businessman, from reality TV star to a populist who has managed to capture the support of a large and often angry voter base. How did he get so far? And who are his supporters?

I don't think it's connected to any kind of solidarity with the working class of any colour. I think the thing about him [Donald Trump] - as with any great demagogue - is that he tests propositions to see what the applause lines are, and he found that the more outrageous he was the more people liked him because of this business of defiance of the elites.

Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

We travel 1,000 miles across Donald Trump's America - exploring the rust belt states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Indiana, where the middle class is shrinking, opportunities are dwindling and people feel that they were left behind in the country's economic recovery.

In Logan County, West Virginia, the state where Trump has the most support, we speak to Kevin Adkins, a coal miner who said he has been laid off six times since 2008. He told us he has put his faith in Trump to resuscitate a dying industry. We also hear from former Democrats who say they've crossed party lines because they feel that no one else is addressing their economic concerns.

At a time when perhaps the most "politically incorrect" candidate in US history rises to the top of the GOP, we have difficult conversations with Trump's supporters about immigration, their place in America and why they believe the anti-establishment politician will "make America great again".

We visit Huntington, Indiana, one of the many towns in the US where residents feel they are being squeezed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). We speak to Chris Setser, an employee at United Technologies, a company that announced in February that it was moving jobs to Mexico. As Trump railed against the company's sister factory, Carrier, in speech after speech, we find that anger over free trade and globalisation has helped propel his unlikely candidacy.

Trump rose to the top of his party not just by tapping into and exploiting fears and anxieties over immigrants and Muslims, but also by speaking to some of the real economic struggles of a section of the middle class that feels like no one else has been listening to them.

Source: Al Jazeera