Gallup survey shows GOP field treading water in presidential race

Who benefited from the exits of Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump from the Republican presidential nomination race?  Gallup’s latest poll suggests that no one has, at least at the moment.  The poll only asked about name recognition and approval, not nomination selection; Gallup used its April poll to reallocate nomination support based on second choices from Huckabee and Trump voters.  However, the “positive intensity score” for both are lower than Huckabee’s was before he pulled out, and the race still has no breakout candidate:

With Mike Huckabee out of the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, three well-known politicians, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich, emerge as leaders in Republicans’ preferences. Republicans, however, have less intensely positive feelings about these three than they did about Huckabee. Two less well-known potential candidates, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, generate high levels of enthusiasm among Republicans who recognize them.

The accompanying table displays potential Republican candidates’ nomination support from March and April, based on reallocating choices of those who initially supported Huckabee or Donald Trump, and Positive Intensity Scores and name recognition for the two weeks ending May 15.

Republicans’ nomination preferences at this point largely appear to reflect name identification. Palin, Gingrich, and Romney are the three best-known candidates, and they top the list of Republicans’ preferences. Romney and Palin are essentially tied; Gingrich does slightly less well even though he and Romney have nearly identical name identification.

Bear in mind that the survey took place over a two-week period that ended on Sunday.  That would have entirely missed the controversy that broke out over Newt Gingrich’s remarks about Paul Ryan’s plan to reform Medicare.  The next iteration of this poll will likely show damage to Newt’s standing, both for candidate preference and positive intensity scoring.

At the moment, though, Gingrich has a competitive positive-intensity score, which Gallup calculates as the difference between strongly favorable and strongly unfavorable opinions from respondents who recognize their names, which is similar to Ramussen’s “presidential index” for Barack Obama.  Gingrich gets a +13, while Palin a +16 and Romney a +14.  The scores for Romney and Palin are the same as last time, which means that they didn’t get a bump in enthusiasm among those who may be voting in Republican primaries.

All of them get surpassed by Michele Bachmann, whose positive intensity score is 21%, and Herman Cain, who gets a +24.  Neither of them are challenging for the lead in candidate support at the moment, though, with 5% and less than 1% support as the nominee, respectively.  Bachmann only gained a point in nomination support from last week in the reallocation based on second choices; otherwise, the numbers for both are the same as two weeks ago.

The departures of Huckabee and Trump didn’t change the state of the campaign as much as it reshuffled the deck.  Gallup will have to poll on the nomination question specifically to get a better reading on frontrunners, but the most remarkable aspect of today’s survey results is that the Huckabee departure had almost no impact on candidate evaluation, and Huckabee at 25% had the best positive intensity score of the field in the last survey.  That may indicate that voters are keeping an open mind, and may be looking for someone they haven’t yet seen.