But most voters consider experience an asset, not a liability, and candidate skills go well beyond being interviewed by a friendly voice from Fox News or conservative talk radio.

Even veteran candidates who have spent years in the political spotlight make mistakes during campaigns, and the chances a first-time candidate will make serious stumbles are enormous. Indeed, Carson has already left a trail of comments, both written and spoken, that have raised eyebrows, ranging from his comments pitching a controversial firm’s nutritional supplement to his comments about evolution.

How important is electoral experience? Going back to the beginning of the last century, only four men who had never held elective office were nominated for president by a major party: Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, Wendell Willkie in 1940, Herbert Hoover in 1928 and William Howard Taft in 1908.

Eisenhower, of course, was a well-known general, while Hoover and Taft had been appointed to high-profile government positions — Hoover as secretary of Commerce and Taft as solicitor general and eventually secretary of War.