Palin's 76% Favorable Among Republicans Tops Others in GOP

by Frank Newport

Former Alaska governor's image more mixed among all Americans

PRINCETON, NJ -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is the best known and most positively rated of five possible contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Her 76% favorable rating among Republicans is higher than those for Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Bobby Jindal.

Images of Possible 2012 Republican Presidential Contenders, Among Republicans

Huckabee and Gingrich have similar 64% to 65% favorable ratings among Republicans, Romney has a lower 54% rating, and Jindal, less well known even to Republicans, has the lowest positive rating of the five.

None of these politicians has officially announced a bid for the 2012 Republican nomination, although Gingrich has recently indicated that he is thinking seriously about it. Still, the other four have maintained visible public profiles: Palin, Huckabee, and Romney, through media appearances and endorsing 2010 GOP candidates for Congress; and Jindal, in managing his state's response to the Gulf oil spill. All but Jindal have political action committees that have been actively raising money in recent months. At this point, Palin, Romney, and Gingrich have similar unfavorable ratings among Republicans, while Huckabee's and Jindal's are slightly lower.

Among All Americans, a Slightly Different Picture

Palin is the best known of the five to all Americans, but with a decidedly mixed image: 44% rate her favorably and 47% unfavorably. Her image is similar to that of former Speaker Gingrich, who has lower name recognition, but similar closely divided favorable and unfavorable ratings. The other three Republicans are not as well known, but are viewed more positively than negatively.

Images of Possible 2012 Republican Presidential Contenders, Among All Americans

Palin was catapulted into national prominence as the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, and has been highly visible since -- with her visibility fueled by a best-selling memoir, continuing appearances on television, and speculation about her political future. Her image was generally more positive than negative during most of the 2008 campaign, but has tilted more negative last year and this year.

Gingrich is less well known to the average American now than he was in the 1990s, when at some points his name identification reached about 90%. Today, 74% of Americans have an opinion of him. Those opinions -- although mixed -- are relatively more positive than the generally negative ratings he received throughout the 1990s and, in particular, in 2007, when he was considered a possible contender for the Republican Party's 2008 presidential nomination.

Romney's current image is somewhat more positive than negative, but ranks among his most positive since 2007. Huckabee's image is also more positive than negative.

Bottom Line

Potential candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination are crisscrossing the nation, making speeches, appearing on television, raising money for their PACs, and in general doing everything short of formally announcing their candidacies as they test the 2012 waters.

Palin has the strongest name identification and positives among Republicans at this juncture. Only 4% say they don't know enough about her to have an opinion, and, by more than 3-to-1, those opinions are positive rather than negative.

At the same time, the other four potential candidates measured also have positive images among Republicans, even if their name recognition is lower. Huckabee and Jindal have the least baggage among Republicans, with lower unfavorables than the other three, but the differences in these negatives are relatively small.

One consideration in any party's choice of a candidate is how well he or she would do in the general election. At the moment, three of these Republicans -- Jindal, Huckabee, and Romney -- have net positive images among all Americans. Palin and Gingrich are saddled with more mixed reactions from the public. As history shows, however, images can change. Romney, for example, had a net negative national image at some points in 2007 as he campaigned for the GOP nomination, significantly different from his more positive image today.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-11, 2010, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

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