Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Do Endorsements Of Candidates Matter To The Voters ?

There was a time when transportation was difficult and information was hard to come by (early in this country) when an endorsement from some person or organization meant something -- and could have a significant impact on an election campaign. Is this still the case? Do endorsements matter at all in our modern elections?

The answer, it seems, is a mixed bag. Some endorsements can help a candidate, some don't matter much, and others can actually hurt a candidate. The endorsements that scored highest in "won't make a difference" are those from a local newspaper (66%), from a U.S. Representative (58%), from a Governor (54%), from a U.S. Senator (56%), from the New York Times (59%) or from a police union (55%).

The endorsements that seem to help the most would be those from veterans groups (35%) or from teachers unions (22%). But even there, a plurality of voters say it wouldn't make any difference in how they would vote.

And then we come to endorsements that would make a significant percentage less likely to vote for a candidate, and those come from right-wing celebrities -- Rush Limbaugh (34%), Glenn Beck (27%), and Sarah Palin (37%).

I did this post because there is a movement among Bernie Sanders supporters to get Senator Elizabeth Warren to endorse their candidate. They think her endorsement would put their candidate over the top with other progressives, and with Democrats in general. I doubt it would make any difference at all. Warren is very popular with progressives (including me), but progressives are thinking people and have chosen their candidate (Sanders or Clinton) for their own reasons. It is very doubtful that any progressive would have their mind changed by a Warren endorsement.

And the same is generally true of Democrats. People forget that Democrats have a big tent -- compromising liberals, moderates, and conservatives. While Warren is very popular with liberals, her support among moderates is much more lukewarm, and conservatives don't like her much at all. That's just the way it is in a big-tent party -- and it means her endorsement would have very little effect on the party's presidential nomination.

The truth is that endorsements just don't carry the weight they once did. In this modern world, it is just too easy to find all the information you could want on any candidate (newspapers, radio, TV, and especially the internet) to make up a person's mind on who to vote for. And when a person has this easy access to information, an endorsement just doesn't mean much.

The chart above was made from a recent YouGov Poll -- done between January 27th and 30th of a random national sample of 2,000 adults, and has a margin of error of 2.9 points.

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