In opining about a best outcome for a White House run, Carson spouts conservative talking points about putting “the Constitution back on the top shelf,” but it’s worth thinking about in the context of a 2016 run. What’s the best-case scenario for Carson in 2016? (And we are excluding the possibility of a win, which is highly unlikely.)
One model is Herman Cain, and it’s a useful parallel not just because they are both black. Yes, Cain was able to seize on the GOP’s desire to have their version of Obama, but he was also able to capitalize on the perennial desire to have a political outsider. It’s the populist idea that 50 random people in the phone book could run the government better than the elites. In 2016, that would be part of Carson’s appeal, but as we’ve written before, his lack of experience will also likely be a liability.
Another model is Rick Santorum, who in a weak field in 2012 did much better than anyone expected. Now, Carson doesn’t have Santorum’s campaign and political experience. He also doesn’t have the kind of oratorical skills that Santorum does. But even though he tends to speak in a whispery voice, he most certainly has the ear of evangelicals. Like Santorum, you can imagine Carson having campaign events at churches and speaking to home-schoolers. (Sidebar: A similar strategy helped Mike Huckabee win the Iowa caucuses in 2008.)