Maybe it’s better not to get that big endorsement
One staple of the U.S. political scene is the quest for endorsements, and Republican front-runner Mitt Romney seems to be leading in the race for support from the GOP establishment.
He picked up the support of Arizona Senator John McCain, who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, who also was a member of the U.S. presidential field until August.
He may not be part of the party “establishment,” but Romney even got the backing of a high-profile party figure — albeit one who declared himself an independent in December — reality television star and real estate mogul Donald Trump, who called the former Massachusetts governor “tough, sharp and smart.”
But does such support really help?
“At best, so far that’s gotten him mixed results,” Republican strategist Keith Appell said, when asked about Romney’s support by party leaders. “Nikki Haley didn’t help in South Carolina. Tim Pawlenty did not help him in Minnesota.”
Prominent supporters can act as useful surrogates. Backers might pay to attend a fundraiser headlined by a well-known supporter, and voters might turn out to hear one speak.
But a Pew Research study last month showed that endorsements by prominent Republicans would do little to bring voters in the race for the nominations and might even hurt in the general election. The study found, for example, that McCain’s endorsement would do little for Republican voters nationally, with 19 pecent saying they would be more likely to support a candidate he supported and 17 percent less likely. But among all voters — the scenario in the general election — the balance is negative. Twenty-three percent would be less likely to vote for a candidate McCain supported, 13 percent would be more likely and 63 percent said it would make no difference.
A cynic might urge Romney to jettison his endorsers now, noting his performance in South Carolina and Minnesota, despite his endorsements by Haley and Pawlenty. Newt Gingrich upset Romney by 40 percent to 28 percent in the Jan. 21 primary, and he placed third – his lowest finish in a nomination contest this year – as Rick Santorum trounced him by 45 percent to 17 percent in the Minnesota caucuses on Tuesday (Ron Paul was second at 27 percent).
Romney is backed by McCain, and Arizona’s primary is coming up Feb. 28. But, on the other hand, he won handily in Nevada, after getting a nod from Trump – the real estate mogul owns a hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
PICTURE CREDIT: Reuters/Steve Marcus