I understand the number; it means Trump is not doing nearly as well anymore with evangelicals and, in Iowa anyway, even TPers, for reasons that his standard "ATTACK!" tactic will only make worse, especially if he can't resist devolving into below-the-belt shots.
Like, for example this one:
Trump also attacked Carson during a rally at his Trump National Doral Miami resort, reports CNN, poking fun at his quiet personality and questioning his competence.
"Donald Trump falls to second place behind Ben Carson," Trump told the crowd, reading a headline."We informed Ben, but he was sleeping."
Maybe this is just Trump being Trump, and maybe this is him giving up on Iowa and playing to primary voters in other States who are more likely to like that crap....But the risk it runs is that Dr. C's momentum keeps building and overflows into New Hampshire and those other early States. Doubling down on a strategy that has worked but is producing diminishing returns might constitute the beginning of the end for the Trump campaign.
But as limited a performer as The Donald is, he's pretty much confined to, as it were, "dancing with the one that brung him" to this "dance". Time will tell if he's playing with fire.
- Me, forty-eight hours ago
We sure didn't have to wait long, did we?:
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson holds a fourteen-point lead over real estate mogul Donald Trump, according to a new Monmouth University poll of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers.
When Iowa Republicans were asked who they would support in their local caucus, Ben Carson topped the list with Donald Trump coming in second — a clear difference from Monmouth's last poll in August where both candidates tied for the top spot at 23%.
According to the poll:
Ben Carson tops the list with 32%.
Donald Trump holding in second with 18%.
Ted Cruz with 10%.
Marco Rubio with 10%.
Jeb Bush with 8%.
Carly Fiorina with 5%.
Rand Paul with 3%.
Mike Huckabee with 2%.
Bobby Jindal with 2%.
John Kasich with 2%
The remaining five candidates tested less than 1%.
Also, in terms of second-choice candidates, Trump trails Dr. Carson as well as Senators Rubio and Cruz, so if Gentle Ben himself began to fade, it likely wouldn't vault The Donald back to the top.
But, as I mentioned the other day, this could simply be another case of the retired pediatric neurosurgeon following in the footsteps of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum as the "underdog evangelical" candidate Iowa Republican caucusgoers tend to favor. But what if it isn't? And - here's the toe-curler for Carsonites - what if the only path to turning an Iowa win into true nationwide Carsonmania was the support of the dreaded "establishment"?:
Carson’s not only potentially a Trump-killer in New Hampshire, he’s a Cruz-killer too. I’d be surprised if some establishmentarians in the donor class haven’t already quietly cut checks to his Super PACs to make sure he’ll have the money he needs to win that State. Cruz will be more dangerous in South Carolina if he’s coming off a win in Iowa, and South Carolina is where donor-class favorite Marco Rubio is supposed to shine. Trump doesn’t need Iowa as badly as Cruz does, although a humiliating loss there would hurt his image simply per the logic that Donald Trump is never supposed to lose at anything, particularly in humiliating fashion. [emphases added]
Ben Carson has been a Tea Party favorite for the past two and a half years, almost as long as has the Cruzer. The question, evidently, is which of them TPers (whatever remnant isn't under Trump's evil spell) favor more versus the context of Ben Carson having the considerably better shot at ultimately winning the Republican nomination. It also almost begs the question of Senator Cruz continuing to bide his time waiting for Trump's support to start gushing over to him. If Dr. C starts surging across the early States, the Texas junior senator will have run out of time.