— -- More Republicans want Ben Carson in the White House than ever.
Over the weekend Carson pulled neck and neck with Donald Trump in the latest NBC/WSJ national poll -- his highest polling numbers yet. In recent days, he also surpassed Trump in Facebook followers by more than 50,000. And that’s not an isolated incident – Carson gained 966,430 Facebook followers in the week after the Sept. 16 GOP debate alone.
Carson sparked controversy Sept. 21 when he declared that he didn’t believe a Muslim could be president of the United States. After his statements aired, Carson was met with criticism from groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Anti-Defamation League. Despite the controversy, Carson seems to be on the rise.
ABC News reached out to six Carson supporters and asked why they were so committed to seeing him in the White House. Here’s what they told us:
Supporters love that Carson’s an "outsider."
Respondents saw Carson’s lack of experience in politics as a strength, not a weakness. Like other Carson supporters we interviewed, Karen Mihalic, 61, loves that the neurosurgeon’s “not like your typical politician.”
“I don’t think politicians are really in tune with the rest of America and what we need,” Mihalic said. “We need someone to shake things up down there.”
Don, 30, who declined to give his last name, said he doesn’t see a difference between Carson’s experience in politics and that of President Obama.
Jeanne Blando, 71, agreed.
“I think Carson will be much more effective than the president we have now,” Blando said.
Carson’s values are important.
But why not support fellow outsider Donald Trump instead? For Blando, it’s all about Carson’s values.
“I love Trump because he says what he thinks, but that won’t work for governing,” Blando said.
Jesse Varoz, 28, called Carson an “upstanding guy.” Richard Medina, 69, said Carson was “truly honest and someone I can depend on.”
“If you listen to [Carson] speak, he thinks about what he’s gonna say, while other candidates do not,” Medina said.
Religion isn’t a factor.
None of the people we interviewed said Carson’s faith was a significant part of why they think he should be president. Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist.
Varoz is Catholic, but said he supports Carson because he’s not afraid to be politically incorrect or candid in interviews. “I like his demeanor, I like his platform,” Varoz said.
Valeryie Hoch, 68, said she was also drawn to Carson’s demeanor and convictions rather than his religious beliefs. However, she does want our future president to have Judeo-Christian values, she said, “because that’s what the Constitution was based on, that’s what our country was based on.”
His comments about Muslims didn’t alienate supporters.
Respondents said that Carson was still their number one choice for the White House, despite the controversy surrounding his recent comments.
The true nature of Carson’s statement has been misinterpreted, Hoch said. Carson wasn’t attacking Muslims but rather explaining the disparity between the Constitution and Islamic Sharia law. “A true Muslim believes in Sharia law, and Sharia law has many conflicting tenets that our Constitution would not support,” she said.
Koch, like Carson, said that if a Muslim “supported our Constitution and our law” that candidate could be president. But Medina was wary. “How can a Muslim not follow Sharia law?” he said. “That’s where we have conflict.”
Varoz said he didn’t support Carson’s comments, but still believes that “of all the candidates available, he’s the best one.”
Is Carson electable? Most respondents thought so, but Mihalic wasn’t sure.
“Can he really carry the party? I don’t think so,” Mihalic said. But Hoch disagreed.
“He might not know about all the aspects of governing, but he’s intelligent and will surround himself” with the right people to be able to govern well, she said.
Some respondents said they’d support other conservative candidates – like John Kasich or Rand Paul – if Carson is unsuccessful. But for Medina, there is no plan B if Carson loses the nomination. “I don’t trust any of [the other candidates],” he said – except for Carson, that is.
ABC News' Paola Chavez contributed to this report.