In the eyes of Republican voters, Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who recently said the Holocaust might have been prevented if more German Jews had owned guns, is now an even more worthy presidential candidate than real-estate mogul Donald Trump, who wants to build a giant wall between the US and Mexico.
A new survey conducted by CBS News and the New York Times shows that 26% of likely voters in the US Republican primaries would choose Carson as the party’s presidential nominee, compared to 22% who would pick Trump. This is the first time Trump has not been in the lead since June.
To be certain, it is still a tight contest—Carson’s four percentage point lead, from a telephone survey of 575 randomly-selected registered Republicans, lies within the four percentage point margin of error. But Carson and Trump have a commanding lead ahead of the rest of the pack: Senator Marco Rubio was favored by 8% of those surveyed, followed by Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina, who had 7% each.
Trump and Carson have been relatively civil to each other until Carson’s recent surge, when Trump took a jab at his rival for being “low energy.” Carson, somewhat bizarrely, responded:
“As a teenager, I would go after people with rocks and bricks and baseball bats and hammers. And, of course, many people know the story when I was 14 and I tried to stab someone,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. ”Fortunately, you know, my life has been changed, and I’m a very different person now.”
The two men, along with eight other candidates, will face off tomorrow (Oct. 27) in a debate broadcast by CNBC.