Ben Carson Threatens To Bolt The GOP As He Slips Even Further Into Irrelevance

Ben Carson threatens to leave the GOP over recent reports about plans for a brokered convention, but with his poll numbers collapsing one wonders why anyone would care if he did.

Echoing a threat that Ben Carson has made on more than one occasion, Ben Carson is now threatening to bolt the Republican Party even as he becomes less and less relevant to the 2016 race:

Ben Carson on Friday blasted the Republican National Committee following a Washington Post report that nearly two-dozen establishment party figures were prepping for a potential brokered convention as Donald Trump continues to lead most polls.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus held a dinner in Washington on Monday, and, according to five people who spoke with the Post, the possibility of Trump heading into the Cleveland convention with a substantial number of delegates was a topic of discussion. Some attendees suggested the establishment lay the groundwork for a floor fight that could lead the party’s mainstream wing to unite behind an alternative. Carson rejected this approach.

“If the leaders of the Republican Party want to destroy the party, they should continue to hold meetings like the one described in the Washington Post this morning,” Carson said in a statement released by his campaign.

Carson said he prays the Post’s report is incorrect and threatened to leave the GOP. “If it is correct, every voter who is standing for change must know they are being betrayed. I won’t stand for it,” said Carson, who added that if the plot is accurate, “I assure you, Donald Trump won’t be the only one leaving the party.”

The retired neurosurgeon said that next summer’s Cleveland convention could be the last Republican National Convention if leaders try to manipulate it.

“I am prepared to lose fair and square, as I am sure is Donald,” Carson said. “But I will not sit by and watch a theft. I intend on being the nominee. If I am not, the winner will have my support. If the winner isn’t our nominee, then we have a massive problem.”

Carson told ABC News on Friday that he had no plans to run as an independent. “But I certainly don’t want to be a part of corruption,” he said, stopping short of saying he would drop out of the race if he left the Republican Party.

“I’ll leave that up to you to speculate,” he added with a smile.

Carson is referring, of course, to the reports I wrote about earlier today about Republican Party insiders discussing preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention where no candidate arrives in Cleveland with a majority of delegates required to win on the first ballot, something that has not happened in either party since 1952. As I noted, such an outcome is not nearly as likely as some political pundits would probably like it to be, but on the surface it seems entirely logical to me for party insiders to prepare for the possibility that it could happen. This is especially true given the fact that, if it did, the entire process for going to a second, third, or more ballot(s) would play out on national television under the watchful eyes of all the cable news networks, not to mention the Internet and social media. Going into the convention unprepared would be a potential disaster for the party, and waiting until April or May to see whether such an event is likely to happen. Given that, and given the fact that there’s not likely to be a brokered convention anyway, Carson’s reaction seems to be just a bit overstated.

The subtext of today’s reports, though, is that Republican Party insiders may be seeking to find a way to stop a candidate like Donald Trump from winning the nomination even if he does manage to win a majority of the delegates, or just simply walks into Cleveland in the lead in the delegate county. This kind of an convention, which harkens back to the days when party bosses chose the nominee with little input from delegates or voters, would be almost impossible to pull of in the modern era, though. For one, thing, the rules that will govern the convention provide, thanks largely to rule changes adopted in 2012, that it would be next to impossible for delegates to vote on the floor for anyone other than the candidate they are pledged to by the the results of their state’s primary or caucus. These same rules also state that only candidates who have a majority of delegates in at least eight states can even appear on the nominating ballot submitted to delegates on the floor. Furthermore, there was nothing in the report that started all this speculation that someone in the GOP may be hatching a plan to take selection of the nominee away from the voters or their purported representatives, the convention delegates. Finally, while a chaotic brokered convention would surely be problematic for the GOP, it would be even more disastrous for the party if insiders were seen as trying to actively undermine the will of the voters. Given that, Carson’s comments seem to me to be based in nothing more than paranoid speculation.

The part that makes all of this amusing, of course, is the fact that Carson’s threat to leave the party seems like, as Ed Morrissey puts it, an empty threat. While there was a time when he was considered a player in the race for the nomination, that time has clearly long past and we now seem to be close to the point where he’s likely to drop off the radar entirely. Given how November went for Carson, that disappearance is completely understandable. During that time, Carson demonstrated ignorance about the way government operates as well as the details of domestic policy issues. In addition to this, of course, he isplayed what can only be called an odd relationship with the truth, including many of the details of his personal biography.  As the pressure grew, Carson began to attacking the media even though it was clear that he was not being treated unfairly. What seems to have proved fatal to Carson, though, was foreign policy, especially in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris. Starting in the most recent Republican debate on Fox News Channel, Carson displayed utter incoherence on basic foreign policy matters, something that has even been confirmed by those brought in to advise him on the issue.  The impact of all of this can be seen in the RealClearPolitics national polling average, where Carson dropped twelve points over the course of just over a month and will likely fall into fourth place behind Trump, Cruz, and Rubio very shortly. Before long, in fact, one expects Carson will fall below double digits and fade into irrelevance given the direction he’s been going as demonstrated by the red line on the chart:

RCP 2015 12-11
In a short while, then, a threat from Ben Carson to bolt the GOP is likely to amount to as terrifying a threat as if George Pataki threatened to leave the GOP.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    Considering the Lords of the Party are pulling their hair out trying to narrow the field, the only reaction I can see from them is: “Good Riddance!”

  2. Franklin says:

    Typo in first paragraph says that Carson will boil the GOP. That sounds delicious.

  3. @Franklin:

    Ah, the joys of eye strain after staring at a computer screen most of the day.

    Besides, everyone knows that political parties should be fried, not boiled.

  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    If wishing could make it so 😀

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:
  6. grumpy realist says:

    I have to say, reading the comments of Trumpites and Carsonites over at Politico, the only reaction I have is: “what a collection of cranky toddlers.”

  7. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Well, they certainly lack an intimate acquaintance with proper grammar and spelling, that’s for sure. That lack, by the way, is another indication that they were once Palinistas.

  8. Davebo says:

    I he still on his book tour? At what point does he formally announce the end to his book tour?

    But seriously, I really hope Dr. Carson hangs in there. He’s been one of the most hilarious subjects in a primary packed full of hilarity!

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: I must have masochistic tendencies. I also glanced at Politico. Half the comments only make sense if you assume they think “brokered convention” means Trump (or Carson in his dreams) wins fair and square, then the RINO Establishment throw out all the primary results and start over in a smoke filled room.I wonder if Carson has any idea how it works. Did Carson offer any suggestion as to how he thinks it should be resolved it if they come into the convention without a nominee?

  10. CSK says:


    It’s pretty clear that Trump, in particular, thinks that “fair” means that he wins all the primaries. Carson’s trying to cash on on this.

    The rabid Trumpkin sites have already “established”–to their satisfaction, which takes virtually nothing–that Reince Priebus and Karl Rove have engineered some giant conspiracy whereby Trump voters will be prevented from going to the polls, or their ballots will somehow be discarded, or the voting machines will be rigged so that an Obama-loving RINO bed-wetting liberal such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Chris Christie wins.

  11. al-Ameda says:

    Echoing a threat that Ben Carson has made on more than one occasion, Ben Carson is now threatening to bolt the Republican Party even as he becomes less and less relevant to the 2016 race:

    Well, there goes some of the neighborhood.

    To no one’s surprise, Ben Carson is now threatening to bolt the Republican Party and leave Planet Earth

    Now, THAT would not surprise me in the least.

  12. Bill Lefrak says:

    It’s a Protestant thing, actually. They nearly instinctively tend to split up into smaller groups when they don’t get entirely their way. How do you suppose we wound up with 15+ Protestant or quasi-Protestant sects? Without even realizing it, they apply that same “my way or the highway” approach to their politics.

    In any case, Carson wasn’t a real candidate this cycle, he was on a glorified book tour. If I were advising him, I’d tell him to lie low for a while, perhaps to relocate out of MI to a more solid GOP state, then when eligible to take a crack at the governor’s chair. I suspect, however, he’ll wind up splitting time between a talk radio show and a pundit’s chair on Fox News.

  13. appleannie says:

    Can cranky toddlers be paranoid? Both descriptions sound about right to me.

  14. Tony W says:

    Ben who?

  15. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Bill Lefrak:

    If I were advising him, I’d tell him to lie low for a while, perhaps to relocate out of MI to a more solid GOP state, then when eligible to take a crack at the governor’s chair.

    Yup, location. That’s his electability issue.

    It’s astounding you aren’t a campaign adviser.

  16. Andre Kenji says:

    Being a governor is a horrible path for the Republican Nomination. You can either implement the tax policies that make you tolerable for National Republicans and then run your state to the ground(Bobby Jindal, Sam Brownback, Scott Walker, Tim Pawlenty) or you can do what governors are supposed to do and be considered a RINO(John Kasich).

    It´s very difficult to govern and then not to be labeled a RINO.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andre Kenji: That all depends upon what one thinks it means to govern.

  18. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Very true. Brownback has Kansas circling the drain from a financial standpoint and those nimrods reelected him. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Ah yes, Depressories. I order a calendar from them each year. The one that I especially love is the one about:

    Work: Just because you’re essential doesn’t mean you’re important


    Very accurately describes my job….

  20. Andre Kenji says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Ending your first or second term and not being universally despised back home is a good start.

  21. bill says:

    maybe he ca go back to being a democrat? then he won’t be an uncle tom/oreo/zebra/house nigga/ whatever.