This seems to be turning into something of a pattern for Dr. Ben Carson. After sagging in the polls in Iowa, he headed out of town rather quickly, but his departure from New Hampshire will apparently preclude his showing up to spend time with his supporters after the polls close. Yep… Ben Carson won’t be around for the speeches this evening. (Politico)

Ben Carson will be notably absent from his New Hampshire primary party on Tuesday.

The retired neurosurgeon will instead fly to South Carolina in the afternoon, his campaign said. Following Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire, South Carolina Republicans will vote next, on Feb. 20.

It’s true that Carson isn’t exactly burning up the polls in the Granite State, but even with his various rhetorical stumbles along the trail, one has to wonder how much the voters of New Hampshire who might have been giving him a second look took note of his enthusiasm level. Instead of dashing to Nashua, Carson first headed to Florida. (Granted, those fresh shirts he picked up looked fabulous.) And now, after less than a week, he announces in advance that he won’t even be joining his own supporters this evening. If you’re somebody who is leaving work to head for the polls and you see that headline, are you going to bother voting for him or just head home and get out of the snow?

I noticed that Chrystal Wright of Conservative Black Chick had a slightly different take on it.

“Ben Carson’s strategy of leaving New Hampshire for South Carolina makes sense, especially considering his race. If you can’t beat ‘em, leave ‘em for better chances in South Carolina. Iowa and New Hampshire are some of the whitest states in the nation, compromised of over 90% white residents. Carson being black probably didn’t help him in those states and may have hurt him along with his fledgling campaign. Voters won’t admit this publicly.”

This is always a disappointing reaction when I see it cropping up. Do we really need to attribute Carson’s showing to his race? Not for nothing, but Iowa isn’t exactly on par with Harlem when it comes to demographics. (It has a 2% black population as compared to 1% for New Hampshire.) And yet Carson was either in the lead or a very strong second there for quite a while. And even in New Hampshire he was polling in second at 18% back in September in the same WBUR poll everyone is excitedly quoting this week. Carson wasn’t any less black four months ago, nor was New Hampshire any less white. Excuse me if I don’t buy “Carson being black” as the reason he’s not doing well.

Also, he’s heading to South Carolina, which obviously has a much higher black population. He’s currently running at 8.7% in the RCP polling average and, granted, that’s better than he’s doing in New Hampshire. But he was in first place at 28 in the beginning of November. Again… I haven’t noticed South Carolina getting a massive infusion of white voters in the past three months.

Perhaps… just maybe… race isn’t really a factor here. It’s just possible that Carson hasn’t run a very good campaign, has given some horrible answers to many questions in debates and interviews, and has shown a tendency to give up at the first sign of adversity and walk away from the battlefield leaving his supporters standing around looking lonely. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just a racist with crazy ideas about how politics works.

CarsonWave