Ben Carson

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's straw poll victory at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference wasn't unexpected for the presidential contender. In third place, however, was a surprise finisher.

Dr. Ben Carson is one of a handful of black Republicans that conservatives are buzzing about this year. While the GOP has made strides in cultivating viable black candidates, the party still has difficulty resonating with black voters.

He may not have the rock-star status of top conservatives like Paul or Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, but Carson's following is growing.