Yes, he briefly surged into a lead in the polls for the Republican nomination, and, to his credit, he never stooped to name-calling that has characterized the Repub race. Heck, he never even interrupted to get extra time during debates (which, unfortunately, because rudeness pays, meant he got less speaking time than those who were willing to interrupt and to keep talking after their time expired).
But Dr. Ben Carson today announced his withdrawal from the race for the 2016 GOP nomination. He did not adopt the current stylized language of “suspending” his campaign. He announced that he would not participate in the next debate (this Thursday evening) and that: “I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results.”
His support base had dwindled so much that this is unlikely to affect the race much. He seemed to draw support from evangelical Christians, so his withdrawal could benefit Sen. Ted Cruz, but also from those looking for an “outsider” to the Republican establishment, so that might cause some supporters to consider Donald Trump. On the other hand, apparently a poll conducted by “Morning Consult” indicated that Marco Rubio (who was the second choice of 25 percent of Carson supporters) might benefit more than Trump (who was the second choice of 19 percent). Cruz led in this soon-to-disappear category of second choice of Carson voters with 29 percent. Given how few Carson supporters were still in the mix, a difference of 10 percentage in a race to be the second choice of disappointed Carson backers amounts to little.
Carson had won eight delegates to the Republican Convention, so those are up for grabs. This leaves just four active candidates (and while I’m naming them I’ll throw in their current delegate totals): Trump (334 delegates), Cruz (233), Rubio (116), and John Kasich (25). (I took the delegates counts for the first from fivethirtyeight.com, but they didn’t have a figure for Kasich so I looked elsewhere.)
A small but obvious point. As I was watching the results late last night, I recall Megyn Kelly interject as breaking news hot off the wire that “Ben Carson is not dropping out.” The point is that no one ever says they might drop out until they actually do. Until anyone actually “suspends,” all statements that they are staying in should be taken as meaningless.