Although Tim Pawlenty appears to be the "first out of the gate" among the possible GOP contenders, Gallup reveals that the former Governor still has a long way to go when it comes to recognition among the American electorate.
In the latest survey investigating potential 2012 candidates, Gallup examines name recognition among GOP voters. While Pawlenty may be the first to announce the formation of an exploratory committee, the former state leader only garners an ID score of 41%, ranking ninth amid possible Republican nominees, which, according to Gallup and past election patterns, could be a serious obstacle in his 2012 pursuit:
The last eight Republicans who won their party's presidential nomination -- John McCain, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, and Barry Goldwater -- were well-known and well-established politicians.
Additionally, Barack Obama, who stands as an example of an individual who came from relative obscurity to national prominence, had a name recognition score of over 75% by March 2007, the year before he gained the Democratic nomination.
Pawlenty and Barbour thus face a serious challenge as they begin their quests to gain their party's nomination. Well under half of their party's rank-and-file members across the country at this point, less than a year before the first primaries and caucuses take place, know who they are. Both Pawlenty and Barbour, as well as other Republicans who are expected to formally announce their candidacies over the next few months, will be crisscrossing the country for the remainder of the year in an effort to make themselves known -- and liked -- by potential GOP primary voters.
While Pawlenty ranks in the bottom tier on name recognition, when it comes to his Positive Intensity Score ("the net of strongly favorable views minus strongly unfavorable views") the Minnesotan does poll significantly better, locked in a tie for fourth place with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
The full results of Gallup's latest poll can be viewed here.