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The rise of Ben Carson and the GOP’s fractured flock of 2016


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’What do you think about Dr. Ben Carson as the GOP candidate for president in 2016?” Republican friends frequently ask me, to which my response is:

“Did he win World War II?”

In 1952, General Dwight David Eisenhower became the last president of the United States to be elected without first holding a lower elective office.

Carson’s path from a very tough childhood to the head of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University is certainly impressive. (In a political field where many Ph.D’s insist on being called “doctor” and few office holders wow you with their intelligence, Carson stands out by being, literally, a brain surgeon.) But the journey from the doctor’s office to Oval Office is highly unlikely.

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That has not stoppedCarson from surging in the popular imagination. He is a “rising conservative star,” according to a recent Washington Post report detailing how “Carson is forming a political action committee, a move that pushes him closer to running for president in 2016.”

The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee raised $3.3 million in just the second quarter of 2014. Carson’s group of loyalists actually outraised the behemoth super-PAC known as Ready for Hillary, which brought in $2.5 million – Hillary’s own record-breaking sum for one quarter.

Ready for Hillary, since its formation in January 2013, had raised a total of $8.25 million as of June 30. Compare that to Draft Carson, a group hatched in August 2013 that has hauled in a whopping $7.2 million.

Momentum for Draft Carson continues to grow, and more cash is flowing as the retired doctor extends his media presence beyond Fox News, where he has been a frequent on-air contributor since October 2013.

But Carson’s political ascension could actually be interpreted as bad news for the crowded bench of GOP 2016 prospects, signaling a severely fractured presidential field in which none of the current “in the news” candidates are catching fire, breaking free, and galvanizing Republican primary voters.

Here are the latest Real Clear Politics (RCP) averages from which you can try to answer these questions and draw your own conclusions.

In the battle for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination there are four names that score in the double digits with voters but are clumped very closely together.

Rand Paul barely leads the pack at 11.3 percent, followed by Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee, who are tied at 11 percent, and Jeb Bush at 10 percent.

Carson, even with his “rising star” status and impressive fundraising, is not yet listed on the RCP polls.

One could argue that having four “leaders,” topping the heap of seven familiar names who are still stuck in single digits, is the very definition of a fractured party.



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