Why Has Trump Endured as Carson Fades? – The Atlantic

But if you had to bet on whether Carson or Trump would do better, Carson would have been a safer wager. He was a man of unassailable character, a highly lauded neurosurgeon and bestselling author. He had an impressive rags-to-riches personal story, and his comments assailing Obamacare at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast had made him an instant conservative folk hero. Trump, meanwhile, was a thrice-married mogul with a history of questionable business practices, a record of inflammatory comments, a grab bag of unorthodox beliefs for a self-proclaimed conservative, and a long history of party-switching and donations to Democrats.

Take their campaigns, too. Trump has little fundraising and nothing resembling a real campaign apparatus. His campaign staff is cobbled together from political operatives who’ve never run a national campaign, people who worked for the Trump Organization, and people with no political experience at all. Carson’s campaign is a strange melting pot of operatives from various places and eras, but they’re mostly real political professionals. There are serious questions about the strategy and sustainability of Carson’s fundraising, which I explored here, but he’s pulling in huge top-line hauls of cash. And Carson has a natural constituency, particularly in Iowa, among evangelicals.

Yet Trump, after an early November slump, has regained his footing, while Carson is sliding toward Jeb Bush territory. But the culprit doesn’t seem to be Trump. Carson’s two adversaries are the press and Ted Cruz. (Talk about strange bedfellows!) Carson depends heavily on evangelical support, but as Cruz surges, evangelical voters, especially in Iowa, have begun migrating from Carson to Cruz. With an eye toward arresting that slippage, Carson’s campaign is hosting an “evangelical rollout” Wednesday in South Carolina. He will reportedly be endorsed by some number of pastors there, though who and how many are not yet clear.


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