Huckabee Continues to Lead in GOP Positive Intensity Tracking

by Frank Newport

Little-known Herman Cain generates strong enthusiasm among those who recognize him

PRINCETON, NJ -- Mike Huckabee continues to generate the strongest favorable reactions from Republicans who recognize him, with a Positive Intensity Score of 26. Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann follow, with Positive Intensity Scores of 20. Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain are at 19, and Sarah Palin is at 18.

Positive Intensity Scores, Potential Candidates for 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, February-March 2011 Trend

Although Tim Pawlenty announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee last week, there was no change in his positioning in Gallup's March 14-27 polling compared with the previous two-week rolling average.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' and Romney's Positive Intensity Scores each rose by five points from two weeks ago -- Daniels' from 10 to 15, and Romney's from 15 to 20. This week's update puts Romney in a tie for second place behind Huckabee for the first time.

This marks the first report on Republicans' views of Herman Cain, a former restaurant association executive from Georgia, who has formed a presidential exploratory committee. Cain is not well known among Republicans -- 21% recognize his name -- but generates enthusiasm among those who do know him, giving him an overall Positive Intensity Score of 19.

Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who also has formed a presidential exploratory committee, has a recognition score of 19%, roughly equal to that of Cain. Unlike Cain, however, Roemer generates very little enthusiastic support, with a Positive Intensity Score of 1, the lowest of any potential candidate tested.

No Uptick in Recognition for Pawlenty

Despite the flurry of publicity that surrounded Pawlenty's announcement last week, his recognition among Republicans has essentially not changed, at 40% today, compared with 39% in January.

The two largest changes over time in Republicans' familiarity with the list of potential candidates are Daniels' increase from 26% recognition in January to 33% today, and Rick Santorum's from 40% in January to 46% today.

Name Recognition of Potential Candidates for 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, January-March 2011 Trend

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, at 97%, remains the most highly recognized GOP personality tested, followed by Huckabee, Gingrich, and Romney, all of whom have recognition scores above 80%.

Palin Has Highest Negatives Among Republicans

Gallup's Positive Intensity Score is based on the percentage of Republicans with a strongly favorable opinion of a potential candidate minus the percentage strongly unfavorable, among only those who have heard of that person. The accompanying table displays those two ratings for each potential candidate.

While Palin's strongly favorable rating of 26% is second only to that of Huckabee, she receives an 8% strongly unfavorable rating among those who know her, the highest of any potential candidate tested. Bachmann's 4% strongly unfavorable rating is the next highest behind Palin's.

Images of Potential Candidates for 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, March 2011


Huckabee has still not made it clear whether he is going to run for president. He presumably may be encouraged in that he generates more positive reaction from rank-and-file Republicans across the country who know him than does any other potential candidate tested. The former Arkansas governor parlays his high name recognition and strength of support into the top position on Gallup's most recent update of 2012 nomination preferences.

Bachmann has been acting more and more like a candidate in recent weeks, including appearances in Iowa last week. She is less well known than other potential candidates, but continues to have the second-highest intensity score of any Republican measured. Cain, who has one of the lowest recognition scores, joins Bachmann in having a relatively high Positive Intensity Score. These data suggest that both Bachmann and Cain have the potential to be much bigger factors in the Republican primaries and caucuses than current trial-heat polling would show.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking March 14-27, 2011, with random samples of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. Questions asking about the 14 potential candidates measured in this research were rotated among randomly selected samples of Republicans each night; over the 14-day period, each candidate was rated by a minimum of 1,500 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

For the overall ratings of each candidate among Republicans and Republican leaning independents, including recognition scores, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. For the Positive Intensity Score for each candidate, the maximum margin of sampling error varies depending on the size of the group recognizing the individual.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 200 cell phone respondents and 800 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, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in 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.

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

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