Carson tops Trump among evangelical voters, polls say

Story highlights

  • Carson has 29% of the evangelical vote. Trump is second with 23%
  • Carson: I want a (tax) system that's based on biblical principles

Washington (CNN)For weeks, businessman Donald Trump was the leading candidate with evangelical Christians.

But on Monday, a new Monmouth University poll found retired neurologist Ben Carson removed the real estate magnate from his pulpit, capturing 29% of the evangelical vote to Trump's 23%. The poll also found Carson has surged to the front of the GOP pack to tie Trump in Iowa, sending a sign that his faith-based approach to politics is resonating.
    And in an August CNN/ORC poll, Carson was considered the top GOP candidate who "best represents Republican values."
    "He is appealing to evangelicals because he is not afraid of talking about his faith. And when he does talk about his faith, it's not a political talking point for him. It is a real relationship with a real God," Carson's press secretary, Deana Bass, told CNN in response to the recent poll numbers.
    The Trump campaign declined to comment on Carson's rise with evangelical voters.
    In recent days, though, questions have been raised about how regularly he attends church and Trump was unwilling to discuss his favorite Bible verse.
    Given his experience as a retired pediatric neurosurgeon and his Seventh Day Adventist faith, Carson has positioned himself as one of the most vocal presidential candidates in the ongoing abortion debate involving Planned Parenthood. The former Sunday School teacher has also been an advocate for religious liberty, an issue that has attracted him to many social conservatives.
    And his religious faith doesn't only fuel his social views but his approach to fiscal policy. Scripture's concepts of tithing influence his 10% flat tax plan.
    "I want a system that's based on biblical principles, because it seems to me that God is pretty fair," he said in Phoenix last month.
    That appearance was originally supposed to be held at a city church, but interest was so high that the event was moved to the Phoenix Convention Center -- the same place Trump spoke weeks before.
    "Even though the President says we're not a Judeo-Christian nation, he doesn't get to decide what kind of nation we are. We get to decide," Carson told the Phoenix crowd, which was larger than Trump's.
    Bass told CNN that Carson's lack of political experience is one of the key reasons he's flourishing in his first bid for elected office.
    "We find where ever we go across the country when people hear directly from Dr. Carson, his message resonates. He doesn't sound like a politician because he is not a politician. People find his authenticity and his solutions for America to be a breath of fresh air," Bass said.
    But whether Carson will be able to dethrone Trump among is to be determined. That, Carson said, is out of his hands.
    "All the pundits say it's impossible," Carson said. "I just said, 'Lord, if you want me to do it, if you open the doors, I will walk through them.'"