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The name (ID) game

If you’re interested in becoming the president of the United States, there’s one first crucial question you have to answer for the American people:

“Wait, wait… WHO?”

A new national poll out Wednesday underscores that, in this year’s 2012 potential presidential field, there’s a wide discrepancy between the name ID haves and the have-nots.

According to the Quinnipiac survey – which, as we wrote this morning, shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading the GOP contenders at 18 percent – most Americans have an opinion on the candidates who have dominated recent national polls.  Only one percent of all Americans said they haven’t heard of Donald Trump or Sarah Palin; ten and nine percent, respectively, could not identify Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Seven percent scratched their heads at Newt Gingrich’s name as well.

But over a third (35 percent) of respondents said they haven’t heard of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, one of the first declared contenders. Pawlenty clocked in at four percent support in the Quinnipiac poll.

Also with 35 percent of respondents replying “who?” was former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the support of just one percent of respondents in the poll.  

Both Santorum and Pawlenty are planning to attend tomorrow night’s first – and sparse -- GOP debate in Greeneville, S.C.

They’ll appear on stage alongside a series of longshot candidates: former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.  

Of the five debaters, Paul is the most recognized and the most popular, according to Quinnipiac. About 4 in 5 Americans in the poll have heard of the quirky libertarian-leaning congressman and former presidential candidate, and he’s polling at five percent.