The combination of Carson's rise and his unorthodox campaign style -- Carson's short-on-specifics stump speech is like no other -- has left some of his rivals baffled. "I just don't get it," one said in a private conversation recently. "I don't get it."
The simplest answer is that Carson is a really appealing man. Another is that he speaks to the throw-'em-out strain among conservatives, the same kind of thinking that would be open to a third-party candidate. Yet another is that Carson's it's-really-very-simple commonsense approach to complex issues resonates with a significant segment of the party. And finally, as the only black candidate, Carson's race might have something to do with it; he might appeal to that part of the Republican mind that has been scarred by years of accusations of racism, and also to those who believe the GOP needs a minority candidate to win more minority voters. Finally, Carson projects a serenity and faith that attracts a following. It's hard to overstate the degree to which he believes that God has guided him not just through his life but to this campaign.