Candidates for office aren’t always well known at first. This difference in name recognition can distort early polling, which is why in this Republican Presidential primary race I keep watching approval ratings for clues.
So my personal find today of Gallup’s Positive Intensity Score tracker I think is worth a look, especially as we consider whether Newt Gingrich’s lead is here to stay.
We went 10 days without a poll in the field, and then after that, we went another 5 days of no news. That’s nerve wracking when the last poll was so radically different from the past.
But fortunately the new Gallup is in, and it tracks very well with the Rasmussen poll. In fact if we pretend there’s no randomness, the poll lends itself perfectly to a new narrative.
I’ve been going crazy since Thanksgiving. We hadn’t gotten any polls over the long holiday weekend, and then no polling was conducted over the weekend itself, so we went 10 days with no major national polls in the field.
Rasmussen broke the dry spell and the read is simple: Thanksgiving was very, very good to Newt Gingrich.
Once Newt Gingrich finally gained some genuine attention after months of praise of his debate performances, the Republican presidential race became a mess. We didn’t know who was leading. It could have been Gingrich, Mitt Romney, or Herman Cain.
For now though it’s settled: Newt Gingrich leads. And as I’ve said in the past, watch his favorability ratings to know whether it’ll last.
Just for kicks, I’ve taken the Real Clear Politics chart of the Republican race and done two things with it. First, I eliminated all candidates but Rick Perry and Herman Cain. Second, I shifted Herman Cain back about 45 days, and up about 5 points.
Red is Cain. Blue is Perry. The shapes of the peaks look pretty similar to me.
Last we looked at the national polling, it was effectively a three way tie in the Republican race, with Rick Perry bringing up the rear.
Now it looks like as this week has gone on, Newt Gingrich has continued to rise at Herman Cain’s expense.
Chaos: Mathematically, we see it when small changes to the inputs of a function produce large, wild changes to the outputs. I believe we’re seeing that now in the GOP primary race, as a weakened Herman Cain and a strengthened Newt Gingrich, combined with a steady Mitt Romney and a resilient Rick Perry, turn it into a four cornered brawl.
I promised last week that Newt Gingrich would get a slot in the next graphic, so here it is. When you finish in second or tied for second in the last two national polls, you’ve earned it.
For the first time in a while though, I can’t really say for sure who’s ahead. I don’t know that the Republicans have a frontrunner right now. Is Herman Cain leading, or Romney? How close is Gingrich? Has Rick Perry faded permanently below the Pauldoza line?
When I write about the polling, I hesitate to say more than I have to about the events going on that drive the numbers. I risk introducing unnecessary bias due to mixing the math with my own observations.
But the Herman Cain harassment story is the story right now. Two new pre-debate polls are out. Cain is down further, Rick Perry is back down after Cain attacked him, so guess who’s on the rise, in second or tied for second in both polls? Newt Gingrich.
First came Cain, then came Politico, then came USA Today/Gallup and NBC News/Wall Street Journal with the latest numbers.
This also make three straight post-scandal polls that have shown Cain to have re-lost his lead over Romney.