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Pawlenty Begins Race With 41% GOP Name Recognition

Pawlenty Begins Race With 41% GOP Name Recognition

PRINCETON, NJ -- Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who this week became the first major Republican to announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, has 41% name recognition among Republicans nationwide. He trails a number of other potential GOP presidential candidates on this measure.

Name Recognition of Potential Candidates for 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, Trend

While Pawlenty's announcement this week fell short of an official declaration of his presidential candidacy, it came close. Pawlenty's website is entitled "Pawlenty 2012," and his frequent visits to early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire make it clear that he is a candidate in all but name.

Pawlenty faces a significant challenge as a result of his overall lack of name recognition among Republicans nationwide. In early January, 39% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents recognized Pawlenty, virtually the same as the 41% name recognition he has registered in the last two weeks of Gallup's tracking of potential GOP candidates.

Overall, Pawlenty stands in a third tier of Republican candidates, based on name identification. Five potential candidates have greater than 70% name ID -- Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul -- likely because they have run prior presidential campaigns or have had prominent roles in Republican national politics.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann sits alone in a second tier with 52% recognition, followed by a group of three possible candidates, including Pawlenty, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, whom 41% to 42% of Republicans recognize.

Three other Republicans Gallup tracks have name recognition scores of less than 35%: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Former Utah Gov. and current Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Pawlenty Fares Better in Intensity of Support

Pawlenty's Positive Intensity Score -- the net of strongly favorable views minus strongly unfavorable views -- is now at 16. A number of potential GOP candidates have similar scores, including the much better-known Gingrich and Romney. Huckabee, Bachmann, and Palin generate higher Positive Intensity Scores than Pawlenty at this point.

Positive Intensity Scores, Potential Candidates for 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, Trend

Barbour Also in the News This Week

Both The Washington Post and The New York Times this week carried major profiles of Barbour, who -- like Pawlenty -- is reported to be seriously considering running for president, although he has not yet set up an exploratory committee. Barbour has about the same level of name recognition as Pawlenty, but a considerably lower Positive Intensity Score (9). This suggests that Barbour does not yet generate much enthusiasm from those who are familiar with him.


Name recognition is a necessary ingredient in a politician's race to win his or her party's nomination for president. The last eight Republicans who won their party's presidential nomination -- John McCain, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, and Barry Goldwater -- were well-known and well-established politicians. Even George W. Bush, who was a state governor with no national experience in the year before he won the Republican nomination, had a recognition score of over 80% when Gallup first measured him in February 1999, albeit aided in part by his famous last name.

Additionally, Barack Obama, who stands as an example of an individual who came from relative obscurity to national prominence, had a name recognition score of over 75% by March 2007, the year before he gained the Democratic nomination.

Pawlenty and Barbour thus face a serious challenge as they begin their quests to gain their party's nomination. Well under half of their party's rank-and-file members across the country at this point, less than a year before the first primaries and caucuses take place, know who they are. Both Pawlenty and Barbour, as well as other Republicans who are expected to formally announce their candidacies over the next few months, will be crisscrossing the country for the remainder of the year in an effort to make themselves known -- and liked -- by potential GOP primary voters. Gallup's weekly tracking and reporting on the name recognition and Positive Intensity Scores of potential Republican presidential candidates will gauge how successful the candidates are in these endeavors.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking March 7-20, 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 12 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 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

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