The Numbers Behind Dr. Ben Carson’s Upward Move in the Polls

Oct. 26, 2015 — Two new state polls released at the end of last week find Dr. Ben Carson breaking Donald Trump’s stranglehold on first place. The Quinnipiac University Iowa survey (Oct. 14-20; 574 likely Iowa Republican Caucus attenders) and the Norbert College Strategic Institute results for Wisconsin (Oct. 14-17; 600 Wisconsin state residents) reveal Carson snatching first place, though the latter poll has a questionable methodology.

Iowa, holding 30 proportional Republican delegates, is the first state to host a nominating event and will do so on the first day of next February.

According to the new Q-Poll, Carson has opened up a 28-20 percent advantage over Trump, with Sen. Marco Rubio jumping to third place (13 percent), and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz landing in fourth with 10 percent preference. Sen. Rand Paul follows at six percent, with Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina each attracting five percent support. And in a disappointing performance for a Midwestern regional candidate — a prototype that normally fares well in Iowa — Ohio Gov. John Kasich falls to just a three percent standing.

Dr. Carson has been inching closer to Trump for the past few weeks, so it’s not altogether surprising to see him beginning to move past the flamboyant international businessman. Now, Dr. Carson faces a staying power test. Thus, the upcoming Oct. 28 Republican debate may be this first-time candidate’s most important early campaign appearance.

But, the Wisconsin (42 delegates: Winner-Take-All by congressional district) poll that gives Carson a 20-18-18-10 percent edge over Rubio, Trump, and Cruz, respectively, appears flawed. Norbert College doesn’t have a particularly strong polling performance from past campaigns, and this survey sample at the very least needs a better explanation.

Not detailing how many of their polled “600 state residents” are actually likely Republican primary voters is a major flaw. If the results are proven accurate, however, the totals tell us that the state is in virtual three-way tie status among Carson, Trump, and Rubio. More Wisconsin data will have to be seen before forming any concrete opinion about what is happening in what could become a very important GOP primary.

The fact that polls are beginning to bring forth a different state leader beside Trump tells us that we are headed into a volatile campaign period, so we can expect to see other transformational polls coming forth on what will probably be a semi-regular basis.

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