Gingrich and Romney are essentially tied as the front-runners on Gallup’s latest trial-heat ballot measure, but their Positive Intensity Scores this year have followed substantially different patterns.
Romney’s highest Positive Intensity Score this year is 20, measured in March, but he has been at or below 16 since late July. Romney’s score of 9 for the two-week period of Nov. 14-27 is his lowest of the year.
The trajectory of Gingrich’s Positive Intensity Score has shown a substantial drop and then an equally substantial rise over the course of the year. Gingrich’s score was 19 in March, but by summer it had plummeted to 1. The former speaker’s score then began an upward track, and has now reached 20 for two weeks in a row. This is Gingrich’s highest score of the year, is currently higher than the score of any other candidate by an 11-point margin, and leaves Gingrich as the only candidate with a double-digit score.
Still, for the first time since early May, the highest Positive Intensity Score over the last three weeks has been 20. This suggests that Gingrich leads in an environment in which Republicans are relatively unenthusiastic about any of the candidates running for their party’s nomination.
Three Candidates Who Have Undergone Drops in Positive Intensity
Three Republican candidates — Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain — have led or been tied for the lead in the Positive Intensity Score rankings at times this year, with scores well into the 20-point range. All have now dropped back into the single digits.
The first to fall from Republicans’ grace was Bachmann, who reached her high of 24 in June. Her scores dropped from that point, and in August they began a more pronounced slide, reaching a nadir of 1 in November, with a score of 2 for the Nov. 14-27 time period.
Perry had a Positive Intensity Score of 21 when Gallup began to track him in July; he reached his personal high point of 25 in August and in early September. Perry began to slide after that, and his current Positive Intensity Score of 0 has been his score in two out of the last three weeks.
Cain, along with Perry, has seen the largest drop in his Positive Intensity Score of any candidate this year, from his high of 34 in late September and early October to his current score of 9, a drop of 25 points. Cain’s fall has accelerated in recent weeks, dropping from 25 in the two-week period ending Nov. 6 — coinciding with allegations of sexual harassment when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C.
Three Candidates Have Never Reached 20
The Positive Intensity Scores of three other Republican candidates — Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman — have been below 20 all year, and are significantly lower now than they were at points earlier in the year.
Santorum’s highest score was 16, last achieved in May. He is at 7 today. Paul was at 16 in April and early May, but has drifted downward since then to his current 2. Huntsman’s score has been in single digits since April, after reaching its highest point of 15 in March and early April. Huntsman is the only currently active candidate whose score has dipped into negative territory; he reached -2 in August and in early September. His scores have stayed at about this level since, including his -2 in Gallup’s most recent reporting period. Complete data for candidates’ recognition and Positive Intensity Scores are found on page 2.
Gingrich’s Positive Intensity Score is now well above that of any of his competitors for the Republican nomination. Still, Gingrich’s current score of 20 is below the high points for a number of other candidates earlier this year, suggesting that while he is in the lead on this measure, he is not yet engendering highly enthusiastic responses from his fellow Republicans. This in turn suggests that the race for the GOP nomination is still far from being determined.
The pattern of dramatic drop-offs in positive intensity for Bachmann, Perry, and Cain this year provides a resounding cautionary note for Gingrich’s current position, suggesting the very real possibility that his score could also decline in this way, as it did early this year. If Republicans’ positive evaluations of Gingrich do drop in the weeks ahead, it is unclear who might surge in Republicans’ affections to replace him.
Romney’s situation on this measure continues to raise questions about his positioning in the nomination fight. While he is still considered to be at least tied for the front-runner for the GOP nod, his current Positive Intensity Score of 9 is his lowest of the year, tying him with Cain, and putting him only 2 points above Santorum. The fact that Republicans have so far been tepid in their evaluations of Romney suggests less than enthusiastic support for his candidacy once primary voting begins.
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Nov. 14-27, 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 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 1,400 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.