Ben Carson Won the Debate Because He’s the Un-Trump in the Race

Dr. Ben Carson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Dr. Ben Carson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The evidence is mounting that Ben Carson won Thursday’s 9 P.M. debate.

You doubt me? This is not my opinion. Except for his charming closing statement, I found his performance low-key and unremarkable.

But the facts are these: Ben Carson gained 24,000 Twitter followers during the debate, more than twice as many as the next biggest Twitter gainer, Sen. Marco Rubio.

In the first out of the box Gravis Marketing poll, when asked who won the debate, Ben Carson lead the pack, with 22 percent. Donald Trump was second with 19 percent. But then 30 percent of those surveyed said Trump lost the debate (second only to Rand Paul at 34 percent), while just 4 percent chose Carson as the loser.

He’s being virtually ignored by the pundits (including me), but his remarkable connect with the huge 24 million audience is too significant to be ignored any longer.

Its time to take the Carson effect seriously: What is behind his appeal?

It’s not “issues.”  I just (to my surprise) had to grade Carson an “F” for his passive refusal to react to the Supreme Court ruling imposing gay marriage, or to indicate he would do anything about coming threats to religious liberty. His fans think they know his heart, and they think that is enough.

David French points to Dr. Carson’s “gentle, virtuous” rhetoric as a cause.

Dr. Carson is our un-Trump, our evangelical Trump: He is decidedly not a politician, but he is also not angry id; he is a strong, loving and concerned father figure.

Like Trump, he is funny and accomplished, but he is not insulting, arrogant, or narcissistic.

Voters who do not want politics as usual, who want dignity and morality restored to the Oval Office, are responding to the man, not the message.

But eventually, Dr. Carson is going to have to take us to the next level and let us know what he will do if we trust him with power.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.