PRINCETON, NJ -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry will start in a strong position relative to other candidates if he decides to enter the presidential race soon. Perry's Positive Intensity Score is the highest of any Republican tested, and significantly higher than that of presumptive GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.
Politico and other news sources are reporting that Perry will indeed make it clear this weekend that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination, thus potentially taking some of the attention away from both a Thursday GOP debate and Saturday's Ames Straw Poll in the important early caucus state of Iowa.
A Perry presidential campaign could benefit from this type of news coverage at this point, given that Perry is less well-known than a number of his potential competitors. His name identification among Republicans nationwide has remained static in the 54% to 56% range over the last five weeks. Romney and Iowa native Michele Bachmann, by contrast, have name recognition scores of 86% and 78%, respectively.
Perry's strong Positive Intensity Score among Republicans who do know him -- 23 for the July 25-Aug. 7 period -- remains a strong plus for him. Perry's score is slightly higher than the less well-known Herman Cain's (22) and the much better-known Rudy Giuliani's (20); it is also higher than Sarah Palin's (18), Bachmann's (18), and Romney's (14).
Five other candidates Gallup is tracking -- Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich -- continue to generate little enthusiasm among Republicans. All have Positive Intensity Scores in the single digits, anchored by Gingrich's low score of 2.
Perry has lower name recognition but stronger appeal to those familiar with him. The two combine to put him in second place when Republicans are asked which candidate they are most likely to support for the GOP nomination, in a separate question included in the weekend USA Today/Gallup poll. Perry, with 17% support, comes in behind Romney (26%) but ahead of Bachmann (13%) and Paul (13%) among Republican registered voters. Among Tea Party supporters, however, Perry is the leader, beating Romney by one percentage point.
If Perry does jump into the presidential race this weekend, he will begin with a relatively strong position among Republicans who know him, although he will face the challenge of maintaining that positive image as he becomes better known. To date, Gingrich, Pawlenty, Paul, Huntsman, and Santorum have all seen their Positive Intensity Scores decline over the course of the campaign. Cain has largely maintained his high Positive Intensity Score, while Bachmann and Romney have seen some ups and downs in their scores.
While Bachmann has managed to increase her name recognition over the past several months, other announced candidates such as Pawlenty, Huntsman, and Santorum have remained stuck at lower levels of recognition -- despite actively campaigning. Perry obviously will attempt to emulate Bachmann's success in gaining national prominence should he announce and begin campaigning.
Perry at this point outshines Romney in terms of generating enthusiasm among those who recognize him. If Perry maintains this position as his recognition increases, he has the potential to take over the front-runner position from Romney. At the same time, the increased scrutiny that comes from being an official presidential candidate could make it difficult for Perry to maintain his currently positive image.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking July 25-Aug. 7, 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 a minimum of 1,500 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.