If you asked a Washington insider who had the smallest chance of winning the Republican nomination six months ago, they would have probably said Donald Trump, followed closely by Dr. Ben Carson. So it’s with some amusement that we regard the latest Bloomberg Iowa Poll that shows these two political outsiders topping the primary field.
Trump remains at the top of the pack, flush with the support of 23 percent of likely caucus participants. But Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is hot on his heels with 18 percent of the pie. For pollster J. Ann Seltzer, this surprising turn of events is both incongruent and somewhat meaningful.
“Trump and Carson, one bombastic and the other sometimes soft-spoken, could hardly be more different in their outward presentations,” said Seltzer. “Yet they’re both finding traction because they don’t seem like politicians and there’s a strong demand for that right now.”
This truth is not just reflected in the poll numbers for Trump and Carson; the anti-Washington sentiment is hurting former Iowa frontrunner Scott Walker and crushing Jeb Bush. Voters – both nationally and in Iowa – have had it with the same old, same old. There is a deep-seated desire for fresh blood, and conservatives have found something they like in the two top choices.
As opposed to Trump, Carson has been waging a quiet but powerful campaign. His ads are all over televisions in Iowa, however, and his message has apparently connected with much of the voting public. In him, conservatives have found an alternative to Trump’s wild and wooly approach to the race. Carson is measured and thoughtful when he speaks while still unrestrained by the shackles of political correctness. In his quest to become America’s second black president, he provides a stunning contrast to the one we have. With a heartfelt defense of individual liberty and personal responsibility, he could pull off the upset of the century.
No matter who ultimately winds up taking the nomination, it is clear that Republican voters are looking for something different this time around. Trump’s popularity is proof enough of this, but Carson’s sudden rise only emphasizes the point. After years of Obama, weak GOP congressional representation, and nonsensical surges in social liberalism, we are drawing a line in the sand. No more will we be jerked around by the Republican establishment. No more will we reward cowardice on Capitol Hill. No more will we be told by the media who we should vote for.