Fox News First

Why voters like Ben Carson

Campaign manager Barry Bennett not concerned that some GOP candidates won't sign letter


**Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

Buzz Cut:
• Why voters like Ben Carson
• Power Play: Debating debates
• GOP beats the odds with big wins in state elections
• Hillary moves left again on guns, minimum wage
• Smells baaaad…

Why is Ben Carson the single most popular candidate running for president in either party?

As Carson moves into a tie with Donald Trump in the latest Quinnipiac University national Republican primary poll, the retired neurosurgeon is blowing the doors off every candidate – including Hillary Clinton – when it comes to the general electorate.

Carson runs better against Clinton than any GOP contender in hypothetical general election matchup, romping to a 10-point lead. Among the three other top-tier GOP candidates, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both defeated Clinton by 5 points and 3 points respectively while Trump trails Clinton by 3 points.

We’re still almost a year out from Election Day, so these matchups are meaningless as predictive properties. But they do reveal the depth of Clinton’s predicament and the remarkable height Carson is obtaining.

Among both general election voters and Republicans, Carson and Rubio are the best liked candidates, though Carly Fiorina also shows appeal in her party and with all voters.  But consider this: Carson has a favorability score 34 points higher than Clinton’s.

Americans might vote for a candidate they do not like. Americans might even vote for a candidate they do not trust, but Democrats ought to be more than a little seasick at the thought that their presumptive nominee is 10 points underwater with the national electorate on favorability and 24 points (!) underwater on honesty.

But again, why is Carson the most popular candidate in the country?

To get your answer, consider the least liked candidate in either party: Jeb Bush.

Bush, who has a net favorability rating of negative 33 points, has made personal attacks a hallmark of late. He first attacked Trump, who is the ne plus ultra of character attackers. But Bush has most recently been attacking the character of his onetime protégé, Rubio.

Bush’s attacks on Trump have sometimes been issue-based, but with Rubio, Bush attacks his younger rival as unfit and unready for office, comparing him to President Obama.

That’s not Ronald Reagan hitting Gerald Ford on the Panama Canal or Mitt Romney clubbing Rick Perry over Social Security. This is personal, more in the vein of the hits Romney took from rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum for Romney’s work at Bain Capital, attacks that teed up the ball for Obama in the general election.

Attacks cost favorability for both the attacked and the attacker. It’s like an intentional foul in a football game. It’s only worth the penalty of it keeps the other team from scoring and keeps you in the game.

Trump’s persistent personal attacks have been part of what has left him unable to expand his reach within his party. Bush’s attacks have proven even more costly. He fell 26 points on favorability with the general electorate since Quinnipiac’s September poll and 38 percent just among Republicans.

Team Bush is looking to reboot, but with Bush loyalists pushing hard on Rubio’s spotty personal financial past – one Bush loyalist emailed today calling for Rubio to release a decade of his credit scores – it seems clear that the personal attacks will persist.

Carson’s opponents have mostly avoided attacking him, except, of course, Trump, a move which has plainly backfired. Attacking Carson, a kindly, Christian man with an inspiring life story, is hard to do.

And Carson goes to great pains to avoid saying unkind things about his rivals. Like Cruz and Rubio, Carson looks for ways to praise rather than blame his fellow Republicans. And voters reward them.

The lesson: If you want to fight your intra-party foes, do it on substance not character.

New poll shows big movement for Rubio in the Granite State - WBUR: “A new WBUR poll in New Hampshire shows establishment outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson are still leading in the Republican primary race there, but some of the other candidates are making new headway… Florida Sen. [Marco] Rubio’s support more than quintupled, from 2 percent to 11 percent, while New Jersey Gov. Christie’s support rose from 2 percent to 8 percent. Both candidates are also seeing big jumps in their favorability ratings.”

Rubio gets second Senate endorsement - The Hill: “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is picking up his second endorsement for president from a fellow senator in as many days. ‘I’m endorsing Marco Rubio for President,’ said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) in a statement on Tuesday…Rubio’s first Senate endorsement came from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) on Monday…”

Dr. Cruz is in - James Pinkerton credits Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for his support of better treatments and cures for pernicious illnesses like Alzheimer’s and cancer, which the former adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush says will be the key message for the GOP in fighting the Democratic narrative on health issues in 2016. Cruz is following in the footsteps of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who has made this approach a centerpiece of his campaign.

Jeb to France: Je suis désolé - Time: “Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush lightheartedly apologized to the people of France on Tuesday for making fun of their work week during last week’s Republican debate…when he was trying to highlight rival Marco Rubio’s poor voting record in the Senate. ‘I made the mistake of saying that the Congress operates on a French work week,’ he deadpanned. ‘I really did a disservice to the French,’ Bush added with a chuckle Tuesday. ‘My inbox was full of French journalists,’ piped in campaign spokesman Tim Miller.”

Jeb thunders in N.H. speech - Bloomberg: “…the former Florida governor practically yelled through his stump speech to a crowd at a house event hosted by ex-senator Scott Brown before taking questions from the audience. ‘We’re Americans, dammit!’ he thundered, as he talked up his boilerplate proposals to cut taxes, lift regulations, boost the military and take aim at President Barack Obama’s policies.”

There’s a great deal of hoopla over the fact the Republican presidential candidates are at odds over the format of GOP debates. Should that be surprising? Chris Stirewalt details the great debate over debates, in just 60 seconds. WATCH HERE.

After over 100 years a landmark of European architecture is nearing completion. The Atlantic describes its historic journey: “In August 1963, Merloyd Lawrence wrote a dispatch in The Atlantic from Barcelona, mentioning many of the city’s…buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí…Lawrence describes the Iglesia de la Sagrada Família, Gaudí’s most famous building, as an ‘unfinished, uninhibited cathedral in which stone explodes into botanical fantasies or overflows like molten wax.’ 52 years after Lawrence’s piece appeared in The Atlantic and 132 years after construction began in 1883, the magnificent Sagrada Família has reached its final stage of construction. … When it’s finished, the basilica will be the tallest religious building in Europe, standing at 564 feet.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or the LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve 45.5 percent//Disapprove – 51.0 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction 27.1 percent//Wrong Track – 63.4 percent

[Watch Fox:  New Fox News Poll results on the 2016 Democratic and Republican nomination races release on “Special Report with Bret Baier” at 6 p.m. ET]

It may have been an off-year election, but Election Day 2015 had surprises that could serve as a temperature check for the presidential contest next year. The biggest surprise of the night came from the Kentucky governor’s race where Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway were expected to have an extremely tight contest for a seat Democrats have held for all but four of the past 44 years. Bevin trounced his opponent with a nearly 9-point victory, however, creating shock waves around the state. That’s good news for Sen. Rand Paul who can continue to run for president for a while longer. And an interesting factoid: the party that won the Kentucky gubernatorial election for the previous 3 cycles has also won the presidency.

Kentucky adds its name to the list of unpredicted Republican victories in between the last two election cycles, drawing many questions about how polling keeps getting things so wrong.  Pollsters in the Bluegrass state apparently did not expect the 17 percent turnout surge from 2011’s gubernatorial race in Kentucky, just as they did not expect Gov. Larry Hogan’s shocking upset last year in the Maryland’s governor’s race. Looks like the persistent challenges of polling, or perhaps the wrong assumption of the pollsters.

Ohio says no to Mary Jane by a wide margin - Columbus Dispatch: “Ohioans pushed a monopoly marijuana-legalization proposal out the door Tuesday by a nearly 2-to-1 vote. But the question is, will pot make a comeback? Although Issue 3 was handily defeated, the debate and conversations about the issue have convinced House Speaker Cliff Rosenberg, R-Clarksville, and other state lawmakers who were staunchly opposed to legalization to now say it may be time to move ahead with medical marijuana.”

Multi-gender bathrooms stall in Texas - Fox News: “An ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people in Houston failed to win approval from voters on Tuesday. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was rejected after a nearly 18-month battle that spawned rallies, legal fights and accusations of both religious intolerance and demonization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”

[The Illinois school superintendent whose district is being ordered by the Department of Education to allow a transgendered student access to the women’s locker room appeared on “The Kelly File.” Watch here.]

What’s up with Hillary Clinton? The latest national poll out today from Quinnipiac University puts her up 18 points over Bernie Sanders. The same poll says 54 percent of Democrats supporting Clinton made up their minds and only 8 percent say they would definitely not support her. And she has overtaken Sanders in the latest polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire. But despite the apparent lock on the nomination she’s digging a deeper hole with the general electorate.

Tuesday saw Clinton aggressively pushing stricter gun control measures, which she wants to make a “voting issue.” That may please the left now but could prove costly in the general, especially in swing states where tighter restrictions on gun rights strike a nerve. And if that wasn’t enough for one day, Clinton says she wants the federal minimum wage boosted to $12 per hour, an increase of almost 70 percent and a move that could cost jobs. Clinton may be bringing the hammer down on Sanders, but at what cost?

Bad omen in Virginia - WaPo: “Republicans held onto the Virginia Senate in fiercely contested elections Tuesday, leaving Gov. Terry McAuliffe without legislative leverage or political momentum as he works to deliver Virginia for his friend and ally Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016. The outcome was a blunt rebuke to McAuliffe (D), who had barnstormed the state with 24 events over the past four days and who portrayed the elections as a make-or-break moment for his progressive agenda.”

[Good luck in Paris - NYT: “China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data.]

From nun to ‘none’ - According to a recent Pew Research survey cited by WaPo “…shows is that people who do not identify with any organized religion (aka the ‘nones’) comprise the largest chunk of self-identified Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic party.  And, that number has increased by almost 10 percentage points since Pew last conducted a similar study back in 2007.”

Oops - At an NAACP banquet in Charleston, S.C. Hillary Clinton promised that under her administration, “former presidents won’t have to declare their criminal history at the very start of the hiring process.” Is there something Bill isn’t telling us?

The American Veteran Center annual “The Honors” event is this Saturday Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. ET at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. On the list of those participating are bold faced-names like Kiefer Sutherland and Dean Cain plus a few members of the Fox family including: Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Jennifer Griffin. The event chooses services members from WWII to the Iraq and Afghan wars to give special recognition to in honor of their service. RSVP here to attend in person. The show will also air Nov. 15 on REELZ at 12 p.m. ET.

SMELLS BAAAAD… : “A [Singapore] airlines Boeing 747 from Sydney was forced to make an unexpected stopover after methane gas set off the fire alarm. The Aviation Herald reports the cargo flight from Australia to Kuala Lumpur, with 4 crew and 2186 sheep on-board, was flying just to the south of Indonesia when the smoke alarms sounded on October 26. Crew on-board SQ-7108 descended the aircraft immediately and diverted to Bali where they landed about 45 minutes later. Emergency services didn’t find any trace of fire or smoke and identified the cause to be the result of exhaust gasses and manure produced by the sheep. The plane and its stinky cargo were able to depart the holiday island about three hours later.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.