Ben Carson is beating the Republican field: The GOP’s presidential contenders need to take the doctor seriously.

Stop Losing to Ben Carson!

Stop Losing to Ben Carson!

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Oct. 28 2015 2:51 PM

Stop Losing to Ben Carson!

Republican presidential candidates need to wake up. They are losing to a kook!

Ben Carson.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Press Club on Oct. 9, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Dear GOP presidential candidates who are not named Ben Carson: Do you notice that you are all losing to Ben Carson? The doctor fellow who has never run for office and is constantly saying insane things? Perhaps it is time to do something about that?

Jim Newell Jim Newell

Jim Newell is a Slate staff writer.

In case you were not aware that you are all literally losing to Ben Carson, let’s show you some polls in which Ben Carson’s numbers are higher than yours.

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The most recent national poll, conducted by CBS and the New York Times, shows Ben Carson earning 26 percent of the vote. This is higher than your 22 percent, Donald Trump. It is significantly higher than your 8 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio, and you’re the guy who’s supposed to win the Republican presidential nomination. Jeb Bush: You have 7 percent in this poll. Seven. That is 19 fewer percentage points of political support than Ben Carson has. Ben Carson is a political novice who quit campaigning for two weeks to sell his stupid book! Oh, and don’t you laugh, Ted “Running the Best Campaign of Any Candidate” Cruz. You have four dumb percentage points. You, like every other candidate, are literally losing the presidency to Ben Carson.

Let’s not even get started about Iowa. Nevermind, let’s get started: You all are losing to a somnolent retiree who very recently was spending entire days babbling nonsense about the Holocaust to anyone who’d listen, in Iowa, the state that holds the first delegate contest in the nation. The two most recent polls of Iowa Republicans show Carson leading the field by double digits.

And that’s not even the bad news. The bad news is that Carson’s ceiling for support is head-and-shoulders above that of you losers. According to this week’s Monmouth poll of Iowa, Carson is viewed favorably by 84 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers and unfavorably by a modest 7 percent. The second most favorably viewed candidate is Rubio at 65 percent to 16 percent. Interesting factoid about Rubio: He is losing in Iowa and most everywhere else to Ben Carson, an inadvertent comedian who believes that prison makes people gay, in a contest for one of the two major party’s presidential nominations.

It’s difficult to do this without hand gestures, but try to follow along: All the way up ~here~ is Ben Carson’s number. Then waaaaaay down ~there~ is your number. What you will want to do is make his number go down, to where yours is. If you check out the calendar, you’ll see that there is a televised presidential debate Wednesday night. What a splendiferous opportunity to point out to voters, many of whom watch television, that Ben Carson obviously should not be president.

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None of you even bothered with this guy in the first couple of debates. He would say something weird or barely funny, and you would smile and laugh. Like, Ha ha ha, what a delight to be in the company of this fellow whom I do not take seriously. Well guess what? Now this fellow is whooping all of you, and everyone likes him and isn’t particularly fond of you.

The good news—if it ever gets through your thick skulls that Ben Carson needs to be taken seriously as a competitor—is that driving up his negatives shouldn’t be all that hard. The guy’s a kook. So are a lot of you, but hoo-boy, Carson’s something else.

The tricky element here is that much of the reason Carson is soaring, especially in Iowa, is that Republican voters there like much of that kookiness. It’s not going to play well in a Republican debate if you go after him for saying that a Muslim shouldn’t be president, that Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery, that he would never raise the debt ceiling, or that gun control caused the Holocaust. Those are what we call “winners” to a certain subset of the American population: specifically, the one that decides which of you gets the Republican presidential nomination. It also may not be worth the risk to point out that Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist. At the end of the day, aren’t we all members of some nutty sect or another? Leave that for the fingerprint-free super PAC ads is what we’re getting at.

But there’s still plenty in Carson’s long list of questionable stances that will hurt him among hardcore Republican voters. Mention as often as possible that, until about three seconds ago, Carson wanted to eliminate Medicare and replace it with a form of health savings accounts. “Eliminate Medicare” is the consistent conservative theoretical position on Medicare. But it’s not one that many Republican voters care for, because Medicare is fantastic. Also point out that Carson loves legalized abortion. Say it just like that. It’s close enough to being almost, maybe, slightly true, at one point long ago, perhaps. In other words, it’s grounded enough by presidential debate standards. It is also worth pointing to the strong evidence that Carson is a grifter, and his presidential campaign one long—and thus far highly successful—grift.

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Look, you’ve been through this already. There was a period when you all ignored Trump and expected his ludicrous candidacy to collapse under its own fraudulence. That didn’t happen, and so you started hitting him. His recent slide indicates that it’s finally working. But now it is Ben Carson, an equally ludicrous candidate, to whom you are all losing. You are losing to Ben Carson. You are losing to Ben Carson. Good grief: stop losing to Ben Carson.