PRINCETON, NJ -- Herman Cain's Positive Intensity Score is 17, down from 29 immediately before news broke in late October about past sexual harassment allegations against him. Newt Gingrich, who has made a dramatic turnaround since the summer, saw his score improve further this week, and he now ties Cain for the highest score among the eight major GOP presidential candidates.
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The current ratings are based on Nov. 1-13 Gallup polling, covering a fairly newsworthy time in the GOP campaign. Cain continued to be dogged by allegations that he sexually harassed women while he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s. Also, the eight major candidates met for two debates, the first of which will be remembered for Rick Perry's memory lapse while he was trying to list the names of federal cabinet departments he would shut down if elected.
Perry's Positive Intensity Score, which had been in the low single digits in recent weeks, fell further to a new low of 0, meaning as many Republicans familiar with him have a strongly unfavorable opinion of him as a strongly favorable one. That compares with his score of 25 in late August/early September.
By this point in the campaign, most of the candidates are fairly well-known, with at least 8 in 10 Republicans familiar with each except Santorum and Huntsman. That higher degree of familiarity may explain why most Republican candidates' Positive Intensity Scores are at their low points for the campaign, with many candidates seeing declines in their scores this year as they became more widely known.
In addition to Perry, Jon Huntsman (-3), Michele Bachmann (1), Rick Santorum (5), and Mitt Romney (10) all tied or set new low scores this week. Ron Paul, currently at 4, is just two points above his low mark, and Cain is just three points above his low score of 14.
In stark contrast, Gingrich's current score of 17 is just two points off his high of 19 in March. This is likely the result of favorable reviews of his recent debate performances. Gingrich's score had been as low as 1 in late July, after his May 15 criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan, negative press coverage of a credit line he had at Tiffany's shortly thereafter, and the resignation of much of his staff in early June.
Romney's score of 10 places him third in the Positive Intensity Score rankings, even though he has generally been tied for the lead in Republicans' nomination preferences and Republicans widely predict that he will be the eventual nominee.
Romney Joins Perry and Gingrich as Leaders in Total Favorable Ratings
Though Romney's Positive Intensity Score continues to lag behind those of Cain and now Gingrich, his total favorable ratings -- including those with a strong and not strong opinion -- are similar. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans familiar with Romney have a strongly favorable or favorable opinion of him, essentially the same ratings as for Gingrich (66%) and Cain (65%) on this measure. The other Republicans' total favorable ratings range between 51% and 60%. Unfavorable ratings of the candidates range between 24% for Romney and 36% for Perry and Bachmann.
Republicans view each of the candidates more positively than negatively on balance, but all candidates have substantial numbers of proponents and detractors among those familiar with them.
Until the sexual harassment allegations against Cain were publicized two weeks ago, he could stake the claim as the candidate Republicans were most enthusiastic about, generating the strongest positive reactions from the party's base. But the recent news has taken a toll on Cain's image, even as he has continued to share front-runner status with Romney in Republicans' preferences for the party's presidential nominee.
Now Gingrich is riding a wave of positive publicity and generates as much enthusiasm as Cain. While most other candidates don't measure up to Cain and Gingrich in terms of how strongly Republicans feel about them, Republicans like all of the candidates in general. And though the candidates' current ratings might suggest that Republicans are not overly enthusiastic about the GOP field, including Gingrich and Cain, the party faithful will likely rally behind whoever gets the nomination next year.
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Nov. 1-13, 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 1,400 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.
The questions reported here were asked of a random half-sample of Republicans for 13 nights on the Gallup Daily tracking survey.
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.