(CNN) - At this very early stage in the battle for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, strong name recognition appears to be making the difference. Case in point: a new survey of Iowa Republicans that puts possible White House hopefuls Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich at the top.
According to an Iowa Poll released Friday, 62 percent of people who said they were likely to vote in the state's Tuesday GOP primary give Romney a favorable rating, with 26 holding a unfavorable view. Fifty-eight percent say they have a positive view of Palin, with nearly four in ten saying they hold a negative view. Fifty-six percent say they have favorable opinion of Gingrich, with one in three saying they hold an unfavorable view.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who was a 2008 Republican presidential candidate, Palin, the former Alaska governor and John McCain's running mate two years ago, and Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, all have high name ID.
But the poll indicates that a large percentage of Iowa Republicans are not familiar with some of the other possible contenders for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Fifty-three percent of those questioned say they don't know enough about Tim Pawlenty to form a favorable or unfavorable opinion, even though he's governor of neighboring Minnesota, with 32 percent saying they have a favorable view of him. Sen. John Thune is unknown to 71 percent of Iowa Republicans, even though he's from neighboring South Dakota, and eight in ten were unfamiliar with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.
The Des Moines Register says that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who also ran for the White House in 2008, was not included in the poll because he says he does not expect to run in 2012.
Iowa plays a large role in presidential politics, as its caucuses traditionally kick off the primary calendar. Possible White House hopefuls usually make visits to Iowa and other early voting states as New Hampshire and South Carolina, in these very early stages of the next presidential campaign.
Pawlenty's been to Iowa twice in the past year, while Gingrich, Palin and Romney have each made a visit since 2008. Daniels has not visited Iowa since the last presidential election.
The survey for the Des Moines Register, which was conducted June 1-3 by Selzer and Company, questioned 1,793 Iowans by phone, including 501 who said they were likely to vote in the state's June 8 GOP primary. The survey's sampling error for likely Republican primary voters is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.