(UPDATE AT END)
Early as it is, recent polls are beginning to tell us something about the 2016 presidential election.
For one thing, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Jeb Bush will be the Republican nominee. Not only is he a weak fifth (at 7%) in the just released NBC/WSJ poll, Republicans, as of now anyway, just don’t like him. In a new Fox News poll, he has a net favorability rating (like/dislike) among GOP voters of a measly one percent.
For comparison, favorability ratings for Trump are +12, Cruz +21, Fiorina +30, Rubio +35, and Carson an unprecedented +52. Almost everybody likes him. (I thought Republicans were supposed to be bigots.) Carson is also creeping up behind Trump over all, only one point behind in the aforementioned NBC/WSJ poll, 21-20. (Fiorina and Rubio are tied for third at 11.)
Perhaps more telling, in another just released poll of North Carolina voters by Elon University, in a hypothetical NC general election matchup we find Trump losing to Clinton by 7%, but Clinton herself losing to Carson by 11%. That’s a huge 18 percent swing! (I don’t think you’ll find Donald bragging about that one on Hannity.)
Something is clearly going on here, Mr. Jones. But what is it? First off, voters have liked Dr. Carson from the beginning for his life story and his authenticity. But lately he has shown more than that. His statement that he would not support a Muslim for president — and then giving his reasons, specifically that sharia law with its legislated misogyny and homophobia, not to mention immutable fusion of church and state, is in direct contradistinction to our Constitution — has highlighted issues for the electorate that no other candidate has thus far dared to raise, at least to the level that Carson has. And he has resonated with the public on the subject across party lines. (In one poll, 51% agreed with Carson and 28% disagreed.)
Moreover, Carson is talking seriously about substantive ideological issues like taqiyya — the principle in both Shia and Sunni versions of sharia law allowing Muslims to lie to non-Muslims for the advancement of Islam — that rarely are discussed in political campaigns (or, for that matter, in Iran negotiations). The public, some small part of it anyway, is being educated.
Not surprisingly, this – dare we call it – uppityness on the part of the neurosurgeon has elicited a fair amount of cognitive dissonance or, in Andy McCarthy’s term, willful blindness from the liberal punditocracy. Jake Tapper on his Sunday show acted as if he could scarcely understand what Carson was saying, even though it is quite simple. Fortunately for us, CNN itself published a transcript. From Carson:
Let me tell you what I would advocate, I would advocate that people go back and look at the transcript of what I actually said. …I would have problems with somebody who embraced all the doctrines associated with Islam. If they are not willing to reject sharia and all the portions of it that are talked about in the Quran. If they are not willing to reject that, and subject that to American values and the Constitution, then of course, I would. I would ask you, would you be willing to do that? Would you be willing to advocate for somebody who would not do that? Probably not. …Is it possible that maybe the media thinks it’s a bigger deal than the American people do? Because American people, the majority of them, agree and they understand exactly what I am saying.
Thankfully, they do.
Now wise friends of mine still tell me that the former pediatric neurosurgeon cannot be president, even though he has done such pioneering things in the operating room and even though he is arguably the most extraordinary individual to run for president since Lincoln and Washington. And I understand what they’re saying. It would be something very different. But those same people were telling me that Trump could not be president months ago, until Trump showed he had staying power in the polls. We don’t know anything anymore. But what is clear is that Ben Carson is formidable. I would suggest that in this instance (as in many instances actually) the quiet man may emerge to be stronger than the loud man. Maybe he already he is.
And here’s something else for Republican voters to think about. Wouldn’t a Carson-Rubio ticket, or vice-versa, someone from the inside and someone from the outside, do more to destroy the despicable identity politics the Democratic Party has been exploiting to everyone’s detriment for generations than just about anything you could think of? It would upend all the reactionary nonsense Obama has stood for on symbolism alone. Worth pondering, no?
And, as Steve Jobs would say (hey, there’s a movie coming out), ONE MORE THING: Joe Trippi — a smart liberal pundit who is not a bad guy — has written an L.A. Times oped today insisting “No, pundits, Hillary is not collapsing.” Maybe he’s right. Maybe Sanders and Biden can’t really overcome her, unless, of course, she’s indicted. But the essence of what Joe T. is saying is that the ethnic (read: black) vote will save Hillary after she goes down in white-bread Iowa and New Hampshire, where her numbers look really bad. That, however, is all the more reason to put Carson on the Republican ticket (if he doesn’t get there by himself, which he well might). Ben would DESTROY Hillary in the general election. Besides the fact that he’s authentically black, as opposed to “Clinton black,” Ben’s already got Kanye West on his side. Game over!
UPDATE: I note from the comments that some of a pessimistic bent (understandable) are afraid Carson will ultimately be sunk with accusations of “Oreo-ism” in the manner of Clarence Thomas. Besides the obvious, that Thomas actually IS on the Supreme Court and finally not sunk, Carson is a radically different situation from the justice. The doctor comes into the fight with eyes wide open and, more importantly, already a hero to a significant portion of the black community. Not only was he the subject of a movie, doctors, who save lives, in his case historically, are not nearly as assailable as judges and lawyers who make debatable decisions. Further, Carson has in his behalf Obama’s absolute failure in the black community. You don’t think they know it? All they have to do is look around. Bad a president as Obama has been for all of us, he has been even worse for African-Americans, setting them back decades. I don’t thinkCarson would hesitate to make this clear – and a substantial portion of the black community will be listening. Rather than sounding pessimistic, nervous Internet commenters should be backing the doctor up. (Also see reference to Kaye West above – that was there for a reason.)
Roger L. Simon – Co-founder and CEO Emeritus of PJ Media and PJTV – is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and multi-award winning novelist. He is covering the election at Diary of a Mad Voter. You can find him on Twitter @rogerlsimon.
@eddriscoll’s artwork above was adapted from the climax of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.