Though Donald Trump retains his somewhat surprisingly strong grip as the Republican presidential front-runner, another non-politician is starting to rise to the top of the polls.
As Princeton polling expert Sam Wang pointed out, accomplished neurosurgeon Ben Carson has risen to the top-tier of the three polls released following the first Republican presidential debate Thursday night.
On Monday, Public Policy Polling released a poll of Republican primary voters in Iowa showing Carson with 12% support among Hawkeye State Republicans, which puts him second behind Trump.
NBC and SurveyMonkey also released a poll Sunday in which Carson rose to 11% nationally among Republican primary voters. He trailed only Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who did not see the same success in the other two polls.
And the firm Morning Consult also found Carson among the top-three candidates in its post-debate poll released on Monday, with Carson up to 9% from 8% in late July.
The data correspond with the response to Carson’s debate performance and trace a trend that’s been emerging for weeks.
Though Carson has never held elected office, many conservative commentators and analysts agreed that he capitalised on the short time that he had to speak at the debate. According to The Washington Post, Carson had the second-highest social media mentions, despite speaking less than almost any other candidate.
Post debate growth on TwitterCarson +24KRubio +11KBush +6KWalker +6KCruz +6KKasich +5.9KTrump +5KPaul +5KHuckabee +4KChristie +2K
— Ryan Teague Beckwith (@ryanbeckwith) August 7, 2015
Unlike Trump, Republican primary voters also view Carson in a highly favourable light.
According to PPP, Carson has the highest favorability among Republican primary voters in Iowa — 69% view him favourably, as opposed to 10% who don’t. That number is up significantly from PPP’s poll in April. And it outpaces Trump, who just 46% of Republican voters in Iowa view favourably.
Even the candidates themselves have praised Carson. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) released a video before the debate on Thursday singling out Carson as the Republican rival he most admired in the race.
It’s worth noting that both the NBC/SurveyMonkey and Morning Consult polls were taken online, a survey method which some polling experts believe is generally less reliable. Still, SurveyMonkey and Morning Consult are both viewed as reliable polls — SurveyMonkey correctly predicted the results of the midterm US elections in 2014 and the UK parliamentary elections.
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