GOP Presidential Candidates Remain Unknown to Most Republicans

Are Republican voters passionate about their presidential choices? Apparently not, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll:

While it may not be unusual for voters’ attention to be focused elsewhere at this stage of a campaign, the survey at the very least provides a reality check for a race that has received frenetic coverage at times on cable news and the Internet even though nearly 60 percent of Republicans cannot point to a single candidate about whom they are enthusiastic, according to the Times/CBS poll.

This is almost entirely a product of name recognition, or the lack thereof. For example, according to the Times survey, 80 percent of Republican respondents did not know enough about Gov. Tim Pawlenty to give an opinion on whether they viewed him favorably or unfavorably. Likewise, the same was true of Gov. Haley Barbour (85 percent), Jon Huntsman (90 percent), Michele Bachmann (75 percent), and Rick Santorum (76 percent). The only candidates to stand out form the crowd were Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. Accordingly, GOP voters had stronger feelings about each:


Again, as the candidates gain more exposure -- through primaries, debates, and campaign events -- and as Republican elites begin disseminating information throughout the party, these numbers should change dramatically. By next year, if the past is any indication, Republican voters will know more about their presidential candidates and show a lot more enthusiasm.

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