Either this is another sign of Donald Trump's fade from GOP frontrunner status as the Republican nominating electorate continues to wake up from its "Summer of Trump" bender, or Ben Carson is filling the role that Mike Huckabee did in 2008 and Rick Santorum did in 2012 as the niche evangelical favorite that wins the Hawkeye State and no place else.
You know where my rooting interest lies between those two scenarios.
Overall, 28-20 Carson. Among Tea Partiers, Trump is actually in third place behind Carson and Ted Cruz. Carson laps Trump with evangelicals and the "very conservative," and gets destroyed among women (the "Carly Effect," I'm presuming) and on moral issues, which are disproportionately big in Iowa. On the two questions on which pretty much every modern election turns - "Does he share our values?" and "Is he honest and trustworthy?", Carson is 84-12 and 89-8, respectively. And Trump? 42-52 and 48-45. You know how I've been pointing out for over three months what a phony he is? Here you go. Plus Gentle Ben is competitive with Trump in every other demographic. Not good news for the Donk Trojan horse.
And it gets worse for The Donald:
30% of Iowa GOP voters will never vote for Trump under any circumstances. Or, in other words, the Trump Ceiling. I and others have written before about how Trump's polling lead has been largely a product of the grotesquely distended size of the Republican presidential field, and when it finally started to winnow back down to reasonableness, that ceiling would enable the true contenders to sweep past Trump and leave him in the dust. That process looks to at last be underway - again, in Iowa, at least.
It's difficult, parenthetically, not to notice that Jeb Bush is at 5%, with the second biggest number of Iowa GOP voters who say they'll never, EVER vote for him. It would appear that Trump's true rivals are Dr. Carson and Senators Cruz and Rubio, the latter two out of which a running mate might just emerge for the retired neurosurgeon.
I'd add something like, "or for Trump" at this point, but I find myself still unable to believe that there are enough Republican voters that are that insane and eager to lose the White House for a third straight time next November.
However, let us not forget what a greenhorn Dr. C is, as evinced by his suggestion to Glenn Beck last evening that the Commissariat of Re-Education not be abolished as the unconstitutional abomination that it is, but be tasked with purging higher education institutions of political correctness:
I will be the first person to admit that the idea of "fighting fire with fire," of vengefully turning Leviathan upon the Democrat Left, is hugely tempting and even arousing. But unless we can have the wildly unfounded confidence to know that we will be in power forever once it is regained, is this the kind of precedent we want to set for the other side to use against us once they get back the upper hand? Because this is an "in for a penny, in for a pound" proposition; if we're going to go down the road of turning the police state's ill-gotten power to our own ends, we cannot stop short of going all the way with it, of using tyranny against the tyrants in service to liberty's restoration.
And it's difficult for me to picture a President Carson being the driver of that crazy train. Which only serves to underscore how little he appears to have thought through this particular idea, how even broaching it publicly can and will be used against him in the general campaign to come, and how much he has to correspondingly learn about being a national candidate for the nation's highest office.
This, in short, is yet another example of what we get for clamoring after "non-politicians". But that's what y'all wanted. Bon appetite.