A Ben Carson surge may test Trump

One question we’ve asked about Donald Trump’s campaign is what would happen if another candidate were to get a surge of media coverage, throwing a wrench in the works of Trump’s perpetual attention machine. Based on the latest polls, we may soon get the best test of this question since Trump entered the race.

The potential surger is Ben Carson, the much-awarded neurosurgeon who is running for political office for the first time. Carson is near the top of the Republican field in two new polls of Iowa. A Monmouth University poll has Carson with 23 percent of the vote and tied for the lead with Trump, while the Des Moines Register’s poll has Carson in second place, with 18 percent of the vote to Trump’s 23 percent. Carson has also been gaining ground in national polls and is in second place behind Trump, according to Huffington Post Pollster’s averaging method.

Carson’s gains in the polls have come organically — in fact, he’s been receiving remarkably little media attention. From June 28 through Aug. 20, Carson received only 0.9 percent of the news coverage of the top 16 Republican candidates, based on the number of Google News “hits” he received. That puts him at 14th in the field. Trump has received about 60 times more media coverage than Carson.