Ah, but of course. All those undecided Iowans and unenthusiastic Republicans across the country lack but one thing: The nudge in a particular direction only a Donald Trump endorsement could provide. Never mind that Trump’s attempt to moderate a debate collapsed. Never mind that every time he reenters the discussion, somebody’s bound to bring up his birtherism to the detriment of his broader message. Never mind that, last week, he changed his party affiliation to “unaffiliated” to preserve his right to run for president of himself as an independent. “Millions of people” still look to Trump to decide which of the current GOP candidates they support — at least according to Trump. The Washington Post reports:
“Everybody wants it,” Trump, referring to his endorsement, said in a phone interview. “I have millions of people waiting for me to do it.”
Trump’s outsize confidence in himself as both kingmaker and potential king should make any serious presidential candidate wary of being endorsed by him, some political scientists say.
“Outsize confidence” barely begins to describe it. Just to ascribe that much importance to any endorsement reflects a misunderstanding of the very nature of endorsements, at least according to some polls.
In general, most Americans say endorsements are not important to them in deciding whom to support for president. In a 2007 Gallup poll, the latest numbers on the subject, 61 percent said endorsements from “prominent people” are not important to their decisions, while 37 percent said they were important, including 16 percent who said they were very important. Democrats were somewhat more likely to say endorsements mattered.
Endorsements from celebrities, such as Trump, appear even less critical. In a 2007 Washington Post-ABC News poll, nearly nine in 10 Americans said candidate endorsements from entertainment figures or celebrities made only a little difference or none at all; 11 percent said they mattered a great amount or a good deal.
Whatever he says, Trump’s endorsement is unlikely to prove an exception: According to a September Fox News poll, 71 percent of Republicans say Donald Trump’s endorsement wouldn’t make much of a difference to them — and 18 percent actually said it would make them less likely to support Trump’s favored candidate.