If Bush Drops Out, or Carson Stumbles


Ben Carson now averages close to 20% in national polls… A lot of voters will be shopping for a new political champion if he falters. There’s no sign of that now, but no one is immune from the inevitable weeding out process in the GOP contest. The dataset collected by allows us to consider things might play out if he left the race.

Carson supporters dominated the raw tally collected from the Civinomics straw poll. Most of the responses were given in August. Now the site displays results in a reweighted form, showing Trump in the lead. It’s an adjustment designed to reflect national public opinion standings. (Some of the AimsPoll analytics make similar adjustments, as explained here).

Nevertheless, it’s clear that a huge swarm of Carson voters ranked their preferences at the Civinomics site. That high turnout gives a clearer and sharper voice to the views of Carson supporters nationwide.

Both the raw and reweighted datasets indicate that Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz are by far the most popular 2nd and 3rd choices among Carson supporters. Each won about 50% of 2nd and 3rd ranks. Both would be likely to gain significantly if Carson left the race.


The methodology employed to build the chart shown here uses only those responses where all candidates were ranked. While the preferences may look nearly tied, it’s worth mentioning that Fiorina had a clear advantage over Cruz by around 5% in the raw tally.

Overall, Carson supporters are ambivalent about Donald Trump. He wins just under 20% of their 2nd and 3rd choice votes, but is soundly rejected by around 34% of them, who put him as their last choice.

Carson supporters are not ambivalent about Carson. Their relatively solid readiness to coalesce around similar alternatives could be taken as an indication that they have coalesced even more solidly around their first choice. Fiorina and Cruz may have a chance to win the voters over, as long as Carson decides to stay in the race. But they’ll have to work hard for it.

Carson supporters present a strong sense of what they want in a candidate… an aggressively cerebral economic and moralistic social conservative who is clearly not already one of the establishment bums he or she promises to throw out. Trump may also be a clear outsider like Carson and Fiorina, but few would consider his appeal cerebral or moralistic.

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Though a relatively small contingent of Jeb Bush voters responded to the Civinomics straw poll, enough showed up to sketch a map of where his support has been going… and where the remainder of it might end up.


It appears that Kasich and Rubio are best positioned to pick off Bush supporters. It’s no surpirse that his drop in the polls has correlated with Rubio’s rise. It’s also quite evident from this chart that potential Bush defectors have no taste for Trump.

If Bush wants to recover his supporters and perhaps even gain some, he’ll have to compete more effectively against those candidates who have been most successful at gathering up defectors. One expects that stopping Trump might be a common priority for all of those voters, presumably for the sake of making sure the Republicans beat the Democrats in the general election. This offers a sense of how many voters within the GOP still prefer not-too-brash mainstream politicians who are relatively close to the GOP’s establishment.

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This series has been using a dataset collected by to prototype some examples of ranked choice public opinion research analytics. Read here and here for background methodology. More advanced Instant Runoff and Condorcet visualizations and will be presented as time and resources permit, hopefully with a fresh datasets.

For more about Sygnol Analytics and ranked choice data visualizations, follow Sygnol on YouTube.


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