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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gingrich and Romney Present Very Different Image Profiles

One thing is clear. If a Martian dropped down to Earth and looked just at our Gallup Positive Intensity Scores, he or she or it would not report back home that Mitt Romney was a leader for the Republican nomination. Right now the Martian would show Newt Gingrich all by himself on top.

The Positive Intensity Score measures the intensity with which Republicans view their candidates. Gingrich gets a Positive Intensity Score of 20, based on the fact that 24% of those Republicans who recognize him have a strongly favorable opinion of him, while 4% have a strong unfavorable opinion. Flash back to July 18-31, when 8% of Republicans who knew Gingrich gave him a strongly favorable opinion, while 7% gave him a strongly unfavorable opinion, for a net Positive Intensity Score of 1.

Romney now has a Positive Intensity Score of 9, which ties him with the free-falling Herman Cain -- just 2 points above Rick Santorum. Fifteen percent of Republicans who recognize Romney say they have a strongly favorable opinion of him, while 6% have a strongly unfavorable opinion. Romney was doing better back in July, when 18% of Republicans had a strongly favorable opinion and 3% a strongly unfavorable opinion.

Thus, while Gingrich has been improving his image in the eyes of Republicans, Romney’s image has been deteriorating.

There is some interesting history here that helps spotlight Romney’s problems in a bit more detail. The all-time high percentage of Republicans who had a strongly favorable opinion of Romney was 22%, back in March. His “strongly favorable” number has not been higher than 20% since June, and, as noted, is now at 15%.

Meanwhile, five other candidates we have followed this year -- in addition to Gingrich -- have been above 20% strongly favorable at some point this year. That includes Michele Bachmann, who was at 26% strongly favorable in June; Herman Cain, who set the all-time high record of 35% strongly favorable in October; Rick Perry, who was at 27% strongly favorable in August and in September; Rudy Giuliani, who was at 23% in August and September; and Sarah Palin, who was at 26% several times.

In other words, Republicans throughout the year have been more passionate about five candidates at various points that they have ever been about Mitt Romney. The former governor of Massachusetts simply has not been able to generate enthusiasm among his fellow Republicans. When a Gallup interviewer asks Republicans if their opinion about Romney is “strongly” favorable, relatively few reply “yes.”

It’s not that Romney is disliked by Republicans. His overall, total unfavorable percentage has only reached 20% twice. Meanwhile, some of his competitors have, at one time or the other during the year, racked up unfavorable percentages at or near the 30% range, including Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Bachmann.

In short, Romney doesn’t generate a lot of negatives, which is the good news for his campaign. The bad news for his campaign is that he doesn’t generate a lot of strong positives either.

Gingrich, on the other hand, generates negatives at some times, and then generates a lot of strong positives at other times.  He has swung all over the map this year -- as noted, going from a Positive Intensity Score near 20 to a score of 1, and then back up to a score of 20.

Republicans at this particular moment are looking at two candidates with quite different images.  On the one hand there is the bland, OK, steady-as-she-goes, anti-excitement image of Romney.  On the other hand there is the volatile, up and down, high-intensity personality of Gingrich -- whose current appeal, it might be added, follows in the footsteps of the high-intensity personalities of Bachmann, Perry and Cain. The key issue is how Republicans will deal with these two disparate personalities going forward.

There are more debates planned between now and the end of the year.  It is not clear that the remaining debates will have a great impact on the candidates' positions at this point, given the frequency with which Republicans have been exposed to the candidates in debate formats already this year.  It is much clearer that the candidates' performances in the first rounds of actual voting beginning on January 3rd will have a cascading impact on Republicans' preferences that ultimately will determine the GOP nominee.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...
December 7, 2011 at 2:20 AM  

I'm a very conservative and Iam for Romney

Anonymous said...
December 7, 2011 at 3:32 AM  

When do you do these inaccurate polls ?

Anonymous said...
December 9, 2011 at 4:26 PM  

how would a ron paul win in iowa affect polling elsewhere? despite his unfavorable rating, his favorable rating is consistent.

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