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Herman Cain Begins Race With High Positive Intensity

Little change for Pawlenty, Paul, or Romney; Gingrich's unfavorables up slightly

PRINCETON, NJ -- Newly announced presidential candidate Herman Cain, although still not widely known, has the highest Positive Intensity Score among Republicans of any potential GOP candidate still in the race. The positioning of two other candidates who have recently announced presidential bids -- Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul -- has not changed. Both have average or below-average appeal among Republicans. Newt Gingrich's Positive Intensity Score is below average, and is down from the week prior.

Potential GOP Candidate Images Among Republicans and Republican-Leaning Independents, May 9-22, 2011

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Georgian Cain, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, officially announced his presidential candidacy on Saturday. His Positive Intensity Score of 27 matches the highest yet recorded for any candidate or potential candidate this year. Cain's name recognition among Republicans remains quite low -- at 33%, better than only Gary Johnson's 20% and Jon Huntsman's 27% -- but has climbed 12 points since March.

Former Speaker of the House Gingrich had a challenging week after announcing his candidacy on May 11. His comments on "Meet the Press" about Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare reform plan were greeted less than favorably by some Republicans and led to some discussion about the viability of his candidacy. In an appearance on "Face the Nation" this past Sunday, host Bob Schieffer confronted Gingrich with questions about large jewelry store charge account balances included on his wife's financial disclosure forms.

Gingrich's Positive Intensity Score is now at 11, down from the two-week average of 13 reported last week but the same as his 11 the week before that. A more detailed look at the trajectory of Gingrich's broad favorable and unfavorable ratings among Republicans indicates a modest downturn over the past week, with his favorable ratings slipping from 69% to 65%, and his unfavorables rising from 24% to 29%. Each score is a two-week rolling average, so the full impact of Gingrich's announcement of his candidacy will be reflected next week. (Full favorable and unfavorable data for all Republican candidates and potential candidates are available at Gallup's Election 2012 page.)

Newt Gingrich: Total Favorable and Unfavorable Opinions Among Republicans and Republican-Leaning Independents, Trend, March-May 2011, Based on Republicans Who Recognize Him

Former Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty announced his presidential candidacy on Monday. So far, the publicity leading up to his announcement does not appear to have increased his visibility nationally. Pawlenty's name recognition among Republicans is at 45%, down slightly from the past two weeks. His Positive Intensity Score of 13 is the same as it was last week, and about average for the 10 candidates measured this week.

Many observers argue that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the front-runner for the nomination at this point -- even though he has not officially declared his candidacy. That's based partly on his showing in trial heat balloting, on which he and Sarah Palin do best. Romney is well-known, but his Positive Intensity Score of 14 is exactly average for the candidates tested, and shows little change over the past six weeks. In short, Romney is not generating a lot of strong or intense feelings among rank-and-file Republicans, although his broad favorable ratings are among the highest of the potential candidates Gallup tracks.

Former Utah Gov. and Ambassador to China Huntsman spent several days in New Hampshire this past week, clearly paving the way for a possible announcement that he is running for the GOP nomination. Huntsman's name recognition is at 27%, up slightly from 20% earlier this year. His Positive Intensity Score remains low, at 8, down from earlier this year when he had scored as high as 15.

Texas Rep. Paul announced his candidacy on May 13, marking the third time he has run for his party's presidential nomination. Paul's recognition of 76% puts him just behind the group of three best-known Republicans tested, but his Positive Intensity Score of 11 is below average.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, like Cain, continues to generate strong positive reactions among Republicans. Her current Positive Intensity Score of 23 is her highest yet this year, and is second only to Cain's. Bachmann has not announced officially that she is a presidential candidate, and perhaps because other candidates' announcements have dominated 2012 election news coverage in recent weeks, her name recognition has slipped from a high of 60% to 55%.

Former Alaska Gov. and vice presidential nominee Palin has almost universal name recognition among Republicans nationwide. Her Positive Intensity Score of 16 is above average, and below only the scores of the less well-known Cain and Bachmann. Palin has not yet announced her intentions for 2012.

Implications

None of the three best-known Republicans who are considered potential candidates for the GOP nomination -- Palin, Romney, and Gingrich -- has a significantly above-average Positive Intensity Score. Palin does slightly better than Romney, while Gingrich trails both. But none comes close to the positive image measured previously for Mike Huckabee, who recently announced he won't run, or to the strong reactions two less well-known candidates -- Cain and Bachmann -- generate. There is thus no potential candidate who at this point combines a high name ID with strongly positive reactions among Republicans. Gingrich in particular faces the challenge of a below-average Positive Intensity Score and overall unfavorable ratings that have been inching up.

There are no signs yet that two Republicans who recently announced their candidacies -- Paul and Pawlenty -- are gaining ground among Republicans nationally. Pawlenty's Positive Intensity Score is about average, while Paul's is slightly below average. Pawlenty's name recognition is still below 50% and has not improved in recent weeks.

The aforementioned candidates who generate the strongest positive reactions -- Cain and Bachmann -- have relatively low name recognition, Cain at 33% and Bachmann at 55%. Although neither is usually included in the discussions of pundits and other observers as candidates likely to win the nomination, their strongly positive images suggest that they may have more impact on this election than might be supposed -- if they can sustain their high image scores while becoming better known. The impact of candidates who have passionate followers is potentially most evident in primary elections, where, as was learned in 2010, turnout among highly motivated Republican voters can make a significant difference.

Track every angle of the presidential race on Gallup.com's Election 2012 page.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking May 9-22, 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. Questions asking about the 10 candidates and 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 or potential 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 candidate.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. 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, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). 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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