Donald Trump began his presidential campaign as an extreme long shot candidate. No one expected to have a chance at the White House. Now he’s the clear front runner. Ben Carson’s campaign began similarly; he was largely considered a fringe candidate with a strong supporter base but little hope of progressing far in the race. Now, the latest Real Clear Politics poll shows him trailing only Trump, with 16 percent of the vote compared to Trump’s 29.8 percent.
Although Trump still has a comfortable lead over Carson, a recent Quinnipiac University poll suggests that Carson may be the more well-liked candidate. As the Washington Times reports, Carson had the highest favorability rating in the poll. His 79 percent/6 percent favorable/unfavorable split contrasts with Trump’s 60 percent/35 percent split. Also, 88 percent of voters found Carson “honest and trustworthy,” compared to just 56 percent that said the same about Trump. “Carson has a higher favorability rating than Trump and a higher score for honesty and empathy,” said Quinnipiac University Poll assistant director Peter A. Brown, according to the International Business Times.
The trend on both ends of the political spectrum has been an increased interest in Washington outsiders. The fact that Trump and Carson have a sizable lead over the once presumed nominee Bush (at 8.3 percent) says much about voters’ attitudes during this election cycle. People don't necessarily want another Bush or Clinton in the White House. Even Carly Fiorina has seen a rise in the polls, although she currently has only 5 percent of the vote. On the left, Bernie Sanders recently gained the lead over Hillary Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
It’s clear that voters are most interested in candidates that operate outside of the Washington machine. Trump has been leading the polls thus far, but it seems inevitable that his momentum will eventually burn out. Voters love him for his no-nonsense attitude and attacks on other candidates, but analysts like Nate Silver still predict that his lack of policy experience will haunt him before voters make their decisions next year. In the meantime, Carson’s rise in the polls should be concerning for Trump, Bush and the rest of the candidate. He, too, offers a perspective on politics far removed from the Washington elite. Yet he’s much more well-liked than Trump, and infinitely more cool headed. It will be interesting to see how voters respond to his performance in the next debate.
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