He’s bumped up firmly into double digits in recent Iowa polls, but in his second run for the Republican nomination, Texas Rep. Ron Paul hasn’t generated much enthusiasm nationally, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Compared with his main rivals for the GOP nod, Paul’s favorable numbers are far weaker among the general public and Republicans in particular.

Overall, Americans split into rough thirds on the libertarian-oriented congressman, with about equal numbers expressing favorable, unfavorable and no ratings at all. Paul is on a slight upswing from September, when nearly half couldn’t rate him. But the uptick in his favorable numbers is matched by a parallel rise in negative ones.

Paul’s been locked in the second tier of candidates in national polls all year, unable to break into a share of the lead at any point. But there is some promise in Iowa, where he shot to the top echelon in a recent Bloomberg poll.

The real trouble is less a lack of exposure than relatively thin popularity among potential Republican primary voters nationally. Fewer than four in 10 Republicans hold a favorable view of Paul. That compares with about six in 10 favorable ratings for former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Paul’s ratings among Republicans are on par with Texas governor Rick Perry’s sharply eroded 42 percent in a mid-November Post-ABC poll. But his numbers among Republicans are lower than businessman Herman Cain’s 50 percent in mid-November after numerous allegations of sexual harassment surfaced, but before the latest charges of a 13-year extramarital affair.

Moreover, Paul does comparatively worse than the main competition among conservative Republicans: 39 percent of conservative Republicans view him favorably, well below the majorities or near majorities who view his rivals positively.

Paul does find slightly more appeal among those who consider themselves “very conservative,” but even among this group, Romney and Gingrich remain more popular.

Read the full poll results

Poll: Gingrich and Romney equally well liked among conservatives

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