Poll: One-Third of Iowa’s GOP Evangelicals Support Ben Carson

by Jim Geraghty

Quick thoughts on this morning’s Quinnipiac poll showing Ben Carson overtaking Donald Trump in Iowa, 28 percent to 20 percent.

Carson taking the lead isn’t enormously surprising but the margin is. The neurosurgeon was rising quickly (he was in single digits in July) and the two most recent polls by NBC/Wall Street Journal and Gravis showed Carson trailing by 5 percentage points.

Peter A. Brown of Quinnipiac points out Carson is doing exceptionally well among the demographic most important to the Iowa caucus:

“Today’s results show his appeal is especially strong among the state’s sizeable white, evangelical Christian community, among whom Carson is receiving 36 percent, twice Trump’s 17 percent,” Brown added.

“Those who know Carson seem to like him. He has an almost unheard of 84 – 10 percent favorability rating among likely Republican Caucus-goers, compared to Trump’s 53 – 43 percent rating. To borrow the line from Madison Avenue, ‘Almost no one doesn’t like Ben Carson.’”

Rubio’s 13 percent in Quinnipiac is a surprising jump – only one poll since May had the Florida senator in double digits – and Bobby Jindal, who had shown some signs of life in Iowa  (6 in the NBC poll, 4 in the PPP one) is back down to just 3 percent.

The poll is further bad news for Jeb Bush. Right to Rise started spending $6 million on television advertising in Iowa in mid-September, and so far, Bush hasn’t seen much impact in his poll numbers.

Keep in mind, this week in 2012, a CNN/Time poll had eventual Iowa caucus winner Rick Santorum at just 2 percent in the state! (Santorum finished eight percentage points ahead of the final RealClearPolitics average, suggesting that the caucus-goers can end up making up their minds late and/or changing their minds at the last second.) Mitt Romney, the other strong finisher in Iowa, was at 25 percent – close to his 24.5 percent finish on caucus night. Ron Paul, who finished with 21 percent, was at just 12 percent in that CNN poll.

Herman Cain was at 21 percent in that mid-October poll; he withdrew from the race in December.

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