As I stated yesterday, it’s evident that the Trump phenomenon isn’t going to go away any time soon. However, it’s also equally evident that the Ben Carson phenomenon isn’t going away any time soon, either. How do I know this? A couple of points from the polling released yesterday indicates that Carson’s current base of support in the polls is very stubborn and that his current level of support may represent his floor rather than his ceiling.
First, it isn’t tremendously difficult to discern why Trump continues to hold first place in the polls while other candidates like Walker, Bush, and Rubio have slid into the background: the answer is that Trump is a ratings bonanza. As a result of this, Trump has received an absolutely staggering amount of media coverage over the last few weeks – far more than any frontrunner of either party ever has at this point of their campaign. Sure, a lot of that coverage has been negative, but a candidate who is under relentless attack from the American media will attract Republican votes, not repel them.
On the other hand, Carson has been flying almost totally and completely under the radar over the last few months, and yet has seen a steady and unrelenting rise in the base of his support. The WSJ reports that over the recent weeks, Trump has gotten over 60 times more mentions in the media than Carson – not 60% more, 60 times more. And yet during this time, Carson is the only candidate in the field who has risen relative to Trump, which means that his support is built almost entirely from personal impressions and word of mouth contact, which tends to be much firmer and more resolute than support that is created via television and media mentions.
Other anecdotal evidence suggests that Carson may well be building the only groundswell capable of catching and passing Trump while the other, more “seasoned” GOP candidates flounder about, unable to deal with him. Carson recently outdrew a huge Trump crowd at the same venue in Phoenix. In yesterday’s Gallup polling, Carson was far and away the most popular candidate in the Republican field, and was furthermore the only Republican candidate who beat Trump in a head to head matchup.
And Carson might well be the one candidate who has figured out the way to beat Trump – which is to ignore that he exists. Every candidate who has thus far attempted to take on Trump head on and beat him via frontal assault has suffered disastrous losses in the process. There’s a reason that Trump is basically begging for Carson to take a swing at him – he knows that as long as Carson ignores him and continues to climb in the polls, he presents what is right now the only true existential threat to Trump’s campaign.
Listen, in an ideal world, I would prefer a candidate who has proven that he can still be a conservative after having been elected to office – someone who has proven that he can withstand the temptations of Washington, not someone who is completely untested by them at all. GOP voters, right now, seem to be rejecting that argument as being without merit – right now, the trio of Trump, Carson and Fiorina threatens to leave the rest of the field in the dust. That’s fine; not everyone has to agree with me.
But while I have concerns about Carson as our Presidential nominee, based both on questions about his ability to win and his ability to successfully govern if he does win, I would not feel, say, horrified at the prospect of handing the world’s largest nuclear arsenal over to his control, like I would with Donald Trump. I believe very firmly that, whatever missteps he might make as a Presidential nominee or as President, Carson would carry himself with dignity in both positions and in the final analysis, history would look kindly on his efforts.
I think America and the world would unquestionably be better places after four or eight years of President Ben Carson. Which is not something I can say about Donald Trump. Which is why, if it really is true that Trump and Carson are on an inevitable collision course, I would happily and without reservation cast my lot with Carson, come what may. If the GOP is doomed to burn ignominiously this election – which it probably deserves to do, I would feel proud to do it with Carson at the head and confident that it can be reborn from the ashes. And I would even have hope that Carson stood a puncher’s chance to salvage victory for himself, which would be the best of all results.
I vote on Super Tuesday. If it comes down to Trump v. Carson on that day, it will be one of the easiest decisions I have ever made at the ballot box.