Cain Catching Up With GOP Rivals in Recognition

by Frank Newport

His 78% recognition is up from 21% in March

PRINCETON, NJ -- Herman Cain is now recognized by 78% of Republicans nationwide, marking a gain of 28 percentage points since September and 57 points since March. This is the largest gain in recognition for any GOP presidential candidate Gallup has tracked this year, and puts him roughly on par with the other major candidates.

2011 Trend: Cain Recognition Among Republicans and Republican-Leaning Independents

Regardless of whether Cain ends up winning the Republican presidential nomination, he has accomplished the remarkable feat of moving from being relatively unknown among members of his own party nationwide to being recognized by almost 8 in 10.

Republicans have been relatively enthusiastic in their evaluations of Cain all year, and his Positive Intensity Scores for five weeks straight have topped the list. Cain's score is down to 30 this week from 34 last week, but it remains more than twice as high as that of any other Republican tested.

GOP Candidate Images Among Republicans and Republican-Leaning Independents, Oct. 10-23, 2011

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Mitt Romney's positioning among Republicans remains fairly stable. His Positive Intensity Score of 13 is broadly similar to what it has been all year. Romney is generally well-liked by Republicans -- his 66% total favorable rating is second only to Cain's. But Romney still does not receive strongly favorable opinions from large numbers of Republicans.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann have suffered the biggest drops in positive intensity of any candidates Gallup tracks. Perry's current Positive Intensity Score is 5, down from 25 in late August and early September. Similarly, Bachmann's current Positive Intensity Score is 3, down from 24 in June.

On the other hand, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has made a comeback of sorts. He began the year with Positive Intensity Scores as high as 19, which plummeted to a low of 1 in July after reports about problems in his campaign. Now, Gingrich is back to 12, essentially tying Mitt Romney for second place behind Cain -- perhaps the result of Gingrich's strong performance in recent debates.

The other three candidates Gallup tracks all have Positive Intensity Scores below 10, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 8, Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 5, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at -2. Despite his participation in most of the GOP debates this year, Huntsman is still recognized by only half of Republicans and has the lowest overall favorable and highest overall unfavorable scores of the eight candidates tested.

About Three-Quarters of Republicans Who Know Cain View Him Favorably

Cain is in the enviable position of having the highest percentage of overall favorable opinions among Republicans and the lowest percentage of overall unfavorable opinions. Almost three-quarters have a broadly favorable view of Cain, and 16% have an unfavorable view. Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry are viewed unfavorably by 24% to 29% of Republicans who recognize them. Bachmann, Paul, and Huntsman are all viewed unfavorably by more than a third of Republicans who know them.

Favorability of Republican Candidates, Oct. 10-23, 2011

Bottom Line

As has been the case all year, Republicans remain fairly reticent to say they have strong opinions about any GOP candidate tested. Only Cain gets strongly favorable ratings from more than 30% of Republicans who recognize him, with all other candidates receiving less than 20% strongly favorable ratings. Because Gallup's Positive Intensity Scores measure is new this year, there is no way of determining how Republicans' low enthusiasm this year compares with the past.

At the same time, fewer than 1 in 10 Republicans have a strongly unfavorable view of any candidate tested. Cain, along with Santorum, has the lowest percentage of strongly unfavorable opinions of any candidate (3%), while Bachmann has the highest (8%).

Now that Cain has become better known, and now that he is the target of more attacks from his opponents, it is possible that his intensely positive image may fade -- as it appears it has begun to do this week. It also remains to be seen whether Cain will be able to translate his popularity into votes as the January caucuses and primaries get underway.

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 Oct. 10-23, 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 eight 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 1,500 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

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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