Carson’s Departure Doesn’t Change Much (2016 Republican Primary)


Ben Carson ended his run for the 2016 Republican nomination on Friday, March 4 (link) after briefly surging in polling last fall but winning no primaries this year. His departure comes during repeated calls from the Republican Party leadership for the party to coalesce around a candidate (but Trump). Some hope that without Carson in the race, the ~10% of Republicans (link) still supporting him will move to support one of the establishment candidates like Marco Rubio. Our data indicates that is unlikely to happen.

The Reuters/Ipsos Poll has been tracking the second choice for Republican voters since the Iowa Caucuses. Since Carson only averaged about 8-10% of Republicans over the last few weeks, we’ve had to aggregate the total over a larger time period to get a sufficient base size (n=381).

Carson 2nd Choice
Our survey data indicates that Carson’s supporters are going to split evenly between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. This even split will result in all three receiving a 2-3 percentage point bump in polling and essentially no change in the overall trend in the race.

(“Other Candidates” includes Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie. Since some of this data was collected, some of the results are from before all but Kasich withdrew from the race. Bush and Kasich draw most of the support in this group).

(“Democrats” are Carson supporters who say they would vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, with the majority saying they would support Sanders.)