Ben Carson Turning Heads

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

When Dr. Ben Carson announced his campaign back in May, no one thought he’d get very far.  He was polling around 3 percent in the most recent Quinnipiac poll and there was a lot of doubt that his campaign could grow legs.  A month later, Carson is off to a promising start, according to two recent polls that place him first and second among respondents:

Carson tied for first with four other top GOP candidates in a recent Quinnipiac University poll with 10 percent of the vote nationally.

The others were: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

…Carson tied Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), for second in a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa poll reaching, 10 percent of the vote among likely caucus-goers in that state. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leads Carson and Paul with 17 percent in that poll.

Carson’s rapid rise to the top tier is astounding and speaks to the fluidity of the Republican primaries this year.  Already there are 9 candidates officially in the race for the White House, with more expected later this month.  In a contest full of niche candidates, Ben Carson has managed to attract attention with his straight talk on religious liberty and education, as well as his focus on pocketbook issues for middle and lower income Americans.

As impressive as Carson’s meteoric rise is, I should point out that there is a certain amount of danger in reading too much into polls this early in the year: A lot of primary voters haven’t started paying attention to the race yet, and I expect a lot of these results will shift when they start tuning in.  That said, catapulting himself to the top tier (even on his admittedly impressive early budget) is quite a feat.  We’ll find out later this year whether Carson’s bid has staying power, but for now he seems like a shoo-in to make the first primary debate this August.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.