by PABLO ROA
After a summer dominated by Donald Trump, Ben Carson came out of nowhere towards the end of October and, according to several national polls, took the lead from the seemingly unstoppable real estate mogul in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Unfortunately for Carson, his collapse may be even quicker than his unexpected rise to political fame.
Carson’s campaign has been hampered by a variety of P.R.-related issues in recent weeks, and the retired neurosurgeon has run into several problems — most of which were self-imposed — that could ultimately bring down his presidential campaign. Namely, Carson has received criticism for his lack of knowledge on increasingly important foreign policy issues. Many have also questioned the authenticity of his life story.
As the chart from Real Clear Politics above shows, Carson had seen his support increase steadily over the last several weeks and even passed Trump for the lead in early November. But with the issues regarding his foreign policy weakness and the questions surrounding his personal story, Carson has plummeted in the polls and now trails Trump by nearly 10 points.
Of course, Trump’s campaign has had its own bouts of inaccuracies and controversies, but the roughly 20-30 percent of the GOP electorate that favors Trump has consistently demonstrated its unwavering support for the real estate mogul. Carson simply does not have a dedicated group of supporters like Trump does, and unlike Trump, he appears to be liable to the standards and scrutiny that normal presidential candidates face.
Carson’s struggles in the polls may not mean much. For all we know, he could rebound and see some success in the key early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. But his recent weeks of bad press cannot be ignored, and his plummeting poll numbers are certainly a concern for his campaign.
While Carson’s campaign may very well be heading into a rapid decline, it’s unlikely that the race for the GOP nomination will be settled anytime soon. Trump has a commanding lead, but he appears to have reached his ceiling. Other candidates who were once on the verge of disappearing into irrelevance — such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — are on the rise and rapidly approaching both Carson and Trump.
Interestingly enough, Carson could have a major impact on the race even if he isn’t in it till the end. After all, the retired neurosurgeon has 19.8 percent of the vote right now, and those votes appear to be up for grabs if Carson were to exit the race.
One thing’s for certain, the Iowa caucuses are now just over two months away, and the race for the Republican nomination is still wide open.