NAME RECOGNITION QUESTION A question that measures awareness of a public figure. The name recognition question produces the touted numbers or recognition score. This is the proportion of the electorate who say they know who a public figure is. These scores can range from virtually zero for unfamiliar figures to ninety-five or higher for widely known politicians ( Sabato, 1981:177). Sometimes name recognition questions try to gauge more than simple recognition. One example is the personal dimension scale (PDS), which combines name awareness with a measure of the negative and positive feelings evoked by candidates:
Next, I'll read some names of public figures. Would you please tell me on a 1-10 scale how negative or how positive you personally feel toward each person. A value of 1 indicates strong negative feelings, while a value of 10 indicates a strong positive feeling. If you don't feel one way or the other, give the figure a 5 or a 6. If you haven't heard of the public figure, just say so. The first public figure is....( Boyd, 1989)
In practice, PDS scores stretch from around 3 (very low) to around 8 (unusually high). Pollsters consider the 5 range a neutral zone for candidate feelings.
Politicians often look to name recognition scores to gauge a candidate's prospects. But this is not consistently good practice. In the early trial heats, these scores can be misleading. Even overwhelming leads can vanish as races heat up, opponents become better known, or voters simply begin to pay more attention ( Crespi, 1989:58-59). Nevertheless, name recognition is an important asset in electoral politics. In many local races, the widely recognized candidate is at a particular advantage because their opponents will never become well known during the campaign. Many voters will end up voting for the widely