Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is cementing his newfound front-runner status in the first-caucus state of Iowa.
A new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register survey released Friday found Carson leading real-estate tycoon Donald Trump, 28% to 19%, among likely Republican caucus-goers in the Hawkeye State. Carson has surged 10 points since late August, according to the survey, while Trump has fallen four points.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was the only other Republican to place in double digits, garnering 10% of likely GOP caucus-goers. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) was in fourth at 9%, while Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) tied for fifth at 5%.
J. Ann Selzer, president of Iowa-based Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll, ascribed Carson’s rise and Trump’s subsequent slump to evangelical Christians “coalescing” around Carson. One-third of self-described evangelical Christians in the poll chose Carson as their first choice, up from 21% in late August.
“His standing has improved in every way pollsters traditionally measure,” Selzer told Bloomberg. “This might be a wake-up for Donald Trump.”
It was the second straight day a poll out of Iowa found Trump surprisingly and suddenly out of the top spot in the Hawkeye State. Quinnipiac University found similar results in a poll released Thursday, as Carson led Trump 28% to 20%.
The Bloomberg/Des Moines Register survey painted a picture of what has drawn Iowa voters to Carson. The fact that he has an “inspirational personal story” was “very attractive” to 54% of likely caucus-goers. And that he is “not a career politician” was described as “very attractive” to 48%.
Even some of Carson’s more controversial comments have seemingly gained him credibility with Iowa’s Republican voters. Significant pluralities said it was “very attractive” that Carson has “raised questions about whether a Muslim should ever be president,” has said the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing since slavery,” and has said that “Hitler might not have been as successful if the people had been armed.”
Aside from the two Iowa surveys, Trump has led almost every national and state-based poll since he rose to the top of the GOP field this summer. He has continued to hold decisive leads in several other surveys out this week.
But Carson has been gaining since shortly after the first Republican presidential debate in August.
“It’s Ben Carson’s turn in the spotlight,” Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown said in a statement on the Iowa results Thursday.
“As they’ve been pondering for six months, many in the political world still are trying to understand Carson’s appeal and how someone who seems to be operating outside the traditional news media/political environment is doing so well among the most conservative GOP voters.”