In Iowa, where they make up over half of all Republican caucus-goers, white evangelicals prefer Ben Carson to Donald Trump by 27 percent to 20 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll. Ted Cruz trails among them at 12 percent, with no one else breaking out of single digits.
These results mirror last month’s Monmouth poll, which had evangelicals preferring Carson to Trump by 29 percent to 23 percent. It’s on the strength of his support among non-evangelicals that Trump is enjoying a 6-7 point lead over Carson in what is a currently a two-man race.
If you had to identify a quintessential Trump supporter, it would be a non-evangelical man in his early 40s who never graduated from college, supports the Tea Party, and whose annual family income is less than $50,000. Your quintessential Carson supporter is a college-educated evangelical woman over the age of 50. Overall, Carson supporters skew somewhat more conservative than Trump supporters. Trump has much higher negatives.
What explains why the two are at the top of the heap has nothing to do with any of the above, however. In the Quinnipiac poll, 78 percentof all likely Republican caucus-goers think that being a Washington outsider is better experience for being president than experience in Washington. And 72 percent think that working in business is better preparation for being president than working in government.
Put real estate developer Trump’s 27 percent together with neurosurgeon Carson’s 20 percent and throw in business executive Carly Fiorina’s five percent for good measure: More than half of Iowa’s GOP voters back a candidate who’s never held political office. As uncommitted Des Moines auditor Scott Gardiner, 53, told Politico’s Katie Glueck last Saturday in dismissing Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, “He’s a politician.”