Green Room

Re: The impact of endorsements

posted at 9:49 pm on September 13, 2013 by

Allahpundit asked an interesting exit question at the end of his post on John McCain’s possible retirement:

Exit question for righties who think a McCain endorsement of Hillary over Paul would mean nothing to anyone: You sure?

Actually, yeah, I’m pretty sure it won’t mean anything, but not because of McCain’s relative draw within the GOP or with independents.  I just don’t think endorsements at this level have any impact on the fortunes of candidates with near-total saturation with voters already.  Endorsements matter for obscure candidates, perhaps especially in local elections, but also in House and Senate races for newcomers.  A well-placed endorsement will allow those candidates to become defined by their associations until they can establish their own identities.

On the presidential level, though, the endorsements are much more about the endorser than the candidate.  People already know Hillary Clinton — perhaps too much at this stage.  They don’t need John McCain’s endorsement to unravel the mystery for them.  The same will be true for all of the realistic front-runners for the party nominations in 2016, too.  Endorsements are a way to assign political figures to a team and to raise money, but very few people will back Scott Walker or Mike Pence (to use other potential examples) because a Senator from either party lines up with them.

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I was for Pence in 2012, but he withdrew to the governorship of Indiana. I can’t think of a better GOP candidate.

HiJack on September 14, 2013 at 1:21 AM

As much as I don’t think McCain’s endorsement would matter, I think we ignore endorsements by supposedly moderate people at our own peril. McCain has often been marginalized by the MSM when they don’t like what he has to say and he was especially marginalized by the MSM when he was our nominee in 2008. The MSM has no problem turning on McCain. But given the opportunity to use McCain as a thorn in the side of another Republican, the MSM is fairly effective at doing so. Granted, it may be a bit more complicated for them if McCain’s un-endorsement of, say, Rand Paul and/or endorsement of Hillary is due to McCain’s hawkishness rather than RINO-ness on other issues, but we shouldn’t imagine that the MSM would be completely ineffective at playing up McCain’s support for a Democrat or opposition to another Republican. This is not to say that a McCain endorsement is worth fighting for when it involves going away from our principles, but I don’t think we should be too quick to assume the MSM and Democrats wouldn’t be somewhat effective with low-information voters in exploiting a McCain endorsement or lack thereof.

MinnesotaSlinger on September 14, 2013 at 10:52 AM

When Sarah Palin endorsed Newt Gingrich for president, it didn’t do much to help Newt in the long run.

If McCain were to endorse Hillary, I think it could do damage to the Republican. The mainstream news media would remind people of McCain’s endorsement over and over and would make such a big deal out of it.

bluegill on September 14, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Endorsements can make the difference when there’s something that is perceived as lacking in a candidate.

See Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama to strengthen his foreign policy credentials.

blammm on September 14, 2013 at 3:43 PM