Saturday, November 07, 2015

Who Gets Carson's Votes?

Yesterday was quite a day for the front-runner in the GOP race (Ben Carson, whose lead mystified 98% of all democrats). It turns out that he has unnecessarily embellished a great deal of his personal biography. (If you become one of the world's best neurosurgeons, whatever your background, you can basically drop the mic and move on.) Because politics has become almost wholly tribal, righties spent the day going to bat for Ben, but I think we can all acknowledge that these are the revelations no politician ever recovers from. 

So the interesting question is: who benefits from Carson's 25 points in the polls? You'd think Trump at first blush, but probably not. Trump's support is weirdly ecumenical; he does well with all constituencies. Carson's support is almost entirely evangelical. Huckabee is off the main stage because Carson's ascent came entirely at his expense. Carson siphoned bits off Bush as well.

What comes next will be very instructive. (Assumption: by the Iowa caucuses, Carson will have lost twenty of his 25 polling points. At least.) If the mood of the party has shifted in the direction everyone always expected, Rubio and Cruz should expect to benefit. If the GOP electorate really is ready to take pitchforks to the establishment, Trump will. Huckabee and Santorum, the past two winners of the Iowa Caucuses, will also be playing for those votes.

Basically, though, I think Trump is the guy to watch. Carson's imminent collapse is going to help someone. If Trump gets those voters, it is going to be a VERY interesting election.

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