Did you know that Mitt Romney is running for president? You are in the minority if you do. Only 27 percent of respondents in Pew's latest survey on the GOP presidential field could name the former governor of Massachusetts as a contender for the nation's highest office. Rick Perry slightly edged Romney as the most recognized Republican candidate, with 28 percent able to name him, which really is not that high, either.
Only 54 percent of those surveyed able to name any of the Republican candidates, which is the lowest level since the 1996 campaign, when in August 1995 there were 56 percent of respondents who could name a candidate (51 percent them mentioned Bob Dole). Still, the Republican are doing much better than the last time the Democrats set out to defeat a sitting president. In September 2003, just 41 percent of Pew's survey could name a single challenger to George W. Bush, with John Kerry leading the field with 19 percent.
What the poll really measures is that, despite what you'd gather from watching cable TV, reading a site like this, or any other media outlet, is that not too many people pay attention to politics this far out from an election. But still, here's the sad thing about Romney's results. He has been running for president pretty much constantly ever since his term as Massachusetts governor ended in January 2007. In Pew's poll in October of that year, 30 percent could name him as a candidate, which is actually 3 percentage points higher than his name recognition in their poll four years later. Somehow, it would seem, a few Americans have managed to forget who Mitt Romney is.