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).
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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 recognise 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.
Track every angle of the presidential race on Gallup.com’s Election 2012 page.