Perry Plummets, Cain Surges in Positive Intensity

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Perry's score is down nine percentage points from two weeks ago

PRINCETON, NJ -- Rick Perry's image is suffering, with his Positive Intensity Score among Republicans familiar with him down to 15, and below 20 for the first time. Meanwhile, Herman Cain's score is now 30, the highest for any candidate this year.

Trends in Positive Intensity Scores -- Herman Cain and Rick Perry

The results are based on Gallup Daily tracking from Sept. 19-Oct. 2. Gallup calculates candidate Positive Intensity Scores as the percentage of strongly favorable opinions minus the percentage of strongly unfavorable opinions of each candidate among Republicans and Republican leaners familiar with the candidate.

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The movement in Perry's and Cain's scores follows recent campaign developments, including poor reviews of Perry's performance in the September debates and Cain's surprising win in the Sept. 24 Florida straw poll.

In addition to Perry, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul established new low Positive Intensity Scores this week, at 5 and 3, respectively. Bachmann was among the highest-rated candidates in June, peaking at 24, but has seen a steady decline since she posted a score of 20 in Aug. 1-14 tracking. Paul has not been rated as positively, with a high of 16 in May, and has registered in the single digits in all but one update since late May.

Trends in Positive Intensity Scores -- Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul

The net result of the changes is that Cain has established a wide advantage over any other Republican candidate in Positive Intensity Scores, with Perry (15), Mitt Romney (13), and Newt Gingrich (11) well behind Cain's 30. Rudy Giuliani (19) and Sarah Palin (13), whom Gallup tracks but who have not made decisions regarding entering the race, would also trail Cain by a considerable margin. The remaining announced candidates -- Rick Santorum (8), Bachmann (5), Paul (3), and Jon Huntsman (-1) -- have much less positive images among Republicans familiar with them.

Cain's very positive image is offset by his lower name recognition, though he has become better known in recent weeks, with 55% of Republicans now familiar with him. He still trails the five best-known candidates -- Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry, Romney, and Paul, all near 80% recognition. Santorum (54%) and Huntsman (43%) are less well-known.

GOP Candidate Images Among Republicans and Republican-Leaning Independents, Sept. 19-Oct. 2, 2011

Implications

Cain's straw poll win, and his resulting gains in recognition and positive intensity, may have made him a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination in Republicans' eyes. Despite his positive image throughout the campaign, Cain typically fared poorly in Republican nomination preference polls, but recent polls by other polling organizations suggest he is now more competitive with front-runners Romney and Perry. Gallup will report an update on nomination preferences early next week.

A candidate needs high name recognition in order to be a factor in the nomination contests. Along with increased familiarity comes increased scrutiny of the candidate and his or her record. Also, when candidates appear to be legitimate contenders, their opponents begin to attack their records on the campaign trail and in the debates. These dynamics appear to have played out for Bachmann and Perry, who saw their healthy Positive Intensity Scores decline as they became better known, though Perry remains among the front-runners.

Thus, Cain will have to weather the next few debates and the next few weeks of campaigning if he is to solidify a position as a leading contender for the nomination.

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 Sept. 19-Oct. 2, 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 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 approximately 1,400 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

For the overall ratings of each 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 by 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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