Trump Is Going Nuclear On White House Rival Carson. Here's Why

Donald Trump has dramatically escalated his attacks on his nearest rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Ben Carson. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll may explain why: the billionaire real estate magnate is bleeding support among avid church-goers and women to the retired neurosurgeon. 

While the unconstrained Trump has a comfortable double-digit lead over the soft-spoken Carson, the data points to a possible emerging threat to Trump's hopes of capturing the party's nomination for the November 2016 election. 

The poll of likely Republican primary voters also shows that Carson is drawing strong support from the rural Midwest, including Iowa, which holds the first Republican nominating contest on Feb. 1. Trump, in contrast, is drawing strong support in the northeast and southeast.

"If Carson keeps his nose clean he could win those states and could catch lightning in a bottle," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist not affiliated with either campaign.

Carson's growing support with women and blue collar voters may explain Trump's recent attacks on his rival, said O'Connell. Trump has highlighted media reports questioning elements of Carson's personal story, and on Thursday he called Carson "pathological" and likened him to a child molester.

"Trump is desperate to consolidate the 'outsider' vote. The blue collar vote is very, very key to Trump's success in that. He has tried everything to shake Carson off and it hasn't worked, so he has decided to go nuclear," said O'Connell, an advisor to Republican Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign.

Read more from Tim Reid and Chris Kahn at Reuters

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