Bye bye, Ben?

Yesterday’s news was full of stories about the abrupt resignation of two top staffers from Ben Carson’s presidential campaign that resulted in 20 other members following them out the door. There had been rumblings for a while about dissention within the camp and Carson himself had at one point said that he was considering a shakeup in his team, which seems to have made things worse.

Barry Bennett, who oversaw Carson’s rapid rise to the top tier of Republican contenders and his later fall, said he quit over differences with another top adviser to Carson, Armstrong Williams.

Specifically, Bennett blamed Williams for an interview Carson gave last week to The Washington Post suggesting that the campaign was in disarray. “It’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen a candidate do,” Bennett said.

This kind of disarray and infighting is not unusual when campaigns lose steam. Since the beginning of November where he briefly held the lead with 25% of the Republican vote nationally, Carson has been in a steep decline for the last two months and is now in fourth place with less than 10%.

Republican poll 1-1-16

I suspect that Carson’s decline is due to the fact that he could not retain his hold on the religious conservatives who were the ones who initially gave him huge recognition following his speech at the White House prayer breakfast in 2013 where he attacked president Obama and his policies while the president was next to him. This is the kind of thing that naturally endears him to those who are virulently anti-Obama and they flocked to him and fed his grandiose ambitions.

But for whatever reason, the religious conservative establishment seems to have decided that he is not their man and have endorsed Ted Cruz instead and this, rather than his demonstrated ignorance and boastfulness and promotion of crackpot theories, may have undercut his base of his supporters. The fact that Cruz’s rise has coincided with Carson’s fall lends support to the notion that they appeal largely to the same bloc of voters.

Carson still seems to be raising a lot of money so he can still hang around for a while. Money and raising the visibility of the Carson brand name seem to be what he and his chief advisor Williams really cared about anyway. Their operation always had the whiff of being a money-making enterprise rather than a presidential campaign.

So, so long, Ben. I wish I could say it has been nice knowing you but I would be lying. I will not miss your smug and unctuous moralizing in the least.


  1. DonDueed says

    Even now, Carson is still polling at twice the level of “Jeb!”. Strange race, but then what would you expect considering it’s the insane party.

  2. Katydid says

    Through a strange twist of fate, I found myself having to socialize with a group of evangelical homeschool mommies for several years. They were absolutely *in luuuuv* with Carson then, which is what you’d expect from a bunch of low-information, authoritarian followers.

  3. WhiteHatLurker says

    The fact that Cruz’s rise has coincided with Carson’s fall lends support to the notion that they appeal largely to the same bloc of voters.

    The graph shows a similar rise for Trump (and a fall for Fiorina). Given the magnitudes, it looks more as if the Carlson supporters moved to Trump and Fiorina’s (and Rubio’s) moved to Cruz.

    I thought Pataki had given up the ghost. Shouldn’t he get a “- -” too?

  4. lorn says

    “unctuous” -- good word. Not used as often as it should be.

    I associate the term with Cruz more than Carson. Carson seems pretty straightforward about his pandering. He hits the right notes he has to to get hit ticket punched, mixing metaphors there, but he doesn’t try to feign humility as a way to humble-brag his way into status of messiah. Cruz pushes that line while working hard to appear to not be pushing it. Growing up in the Southern baptists church I got to know, and have developed a deep loathing for, the type.

    Before the campaign is over, possibly as a last desperate gambit, I expect Cruz to imply stigmata. A faked stumble, skinned palms, and he wears bandages. Those so inclined, an there are a lot of them out there, will make the connection. Those no so inclined will just see a guy who took an unfortunate tumble. He gets sympathy and a payoff either way. It is exactly the sort of heads-I-win-tails-you-lose maneuver that Cruz is known for setting up.

  5. StevoR says

    @5. WhiteHatLurker : “I thought Pataki had given up the ghost. “

    Yes, yes he has. Pataki has quit the race :

    Oh and well done for remembering he was ever in it in the first place.

    Its a pity really becoz Pataki was one of the better more moderate and reasonable Repub candidates in my view -- and I’d much rather that more reasonable people were closer to power than the raving monster loony* fringe types were. (Becoz what if they actually win? The problem with political jokers is that sometimes they get elected. ) Sigh.

    * See : which at least pretty open about it’s satirical nature. Or do the Repubs now pretty much openly claim the same status seriousness wise and given they are one of the two main US parties .. I mean Trump?!?

    FFS! Seriously?!? Emphasis on the question marks here.

  6. StevoR says

    @ ^ “The problem with political jokers is that sometimes they get elected.

    Although mind you, Mike Moore’s ficus tree write -in would’ve made a better & more helpful and constructive politician than almost all the one’s ya got.

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