Do endorsements matter? Almost never.

at 07:00 AM ET, 01/13/2012

The Fix is fascinated with political endorsements. Heck, we created an entire Endorsement Hierarchy aimed at classifying and ranking the various sorts of endorsements in the political world.

But even as we — and the rest of the politically inclined media — spend hours wondering who might endorse whom and what it all means, we’ve always had a niggling little voice in the back of our mind that squeaked: “Endorsements don’t matter.”

New data from a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll proves that the little voice might have been right all along.


Former President George W. Bush (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds/file)
Six Republican politicians were tested to see if their endorsement of a candidate would move the needle. For all but one — former President George W. Bush — more than six in 10 registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said it would make no difference if they decided to endorse a politician. (Fifty-nine percent said that of Bush — barely rescuing him from the heights of inconsequence. More on that from our polling team.)

A staggering 70 percent of GOPers and GOP-leaning independents said an endorsement by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann wouldn’t influence their decision making. (10 percent said it would make them more likely to support a candidate, while 18 percent said it would make them less likely to do so.)

Non-politicians fared no better. Seventy-three percent of Republicans said a newspaper endorsement would make no difference in their vote (73 percent!). Seventy percent said the same of a priest. Ouchy.

These numbers are stark but may — and we emphasize may — be slightly overstated. Why? Because people like to think that they are independent-minded, making decisions for themselves not because some politician or newspaper told them to. The reality is that endorsements probably have more sway over decision-making than people are willing to admit to a pollster. And some of it might be subconscious.

But, not much. Any time you hear a politician touting a “game-changing” endorsement, remember the numbers above. Most endorsements are good for a headline or two and not much more.

Romney super PAC targets Santorum in Florida: Perhaps recognizing that he is Mitt Romney’s biggest threat going forward, the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future is up with a new ad in Florida taking aim at Rick Santorum .

The ad says Santorum is damaged goods and that he can’t beat President Obama head-to-head.

“Santorum pushed for billions in wasteful pork, voting for the Bridge to Nowhere, a tea pot museum, even an indoor rain forest,” the ad says. “Santorum voted to raise the debt limit five times, increasing spending and debt by $3 trillion. And he even voted to let convicted felons vote. So how will Santorum beat Obama? Obama knows he can’t.”

The pro-Romney super PAC recently upped its buy in Florida by $3.6 million.

RNC outraises DNC: The Republican National Committee continued to outraise its Democratic counterpart in December, despite the DNC having an incumbent president on its side.

The RNC raised $11.6 million, compared to $9.6 million for the DNC. It is the fourth time in the last five months that the RNC has won the head-to-head matchup. The RNC outpaced the DNC $27 million to $24 million in the fourth quarter.

Fixbits:

Romney’s GOP opponents back off their Bain criticism, to a degree.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says Ron Paul is good for the GOP, and he hopes Paul stays in the race.

Rick Perry gets pressed on the money he has made from venture capital.

John McCain slams Mike Huckabee’s claim that McCain convinced Fred Thompson to stay in the 2008 presidential race through South Carolina in order to ruin Huckabee’s chances by splitting the social conservative vote.

Businessman John Raese (R) will run for Senate for a fourth time in West Virginia, challenging popular Sen. Joe Manchin (D).

Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.) won’t have to face off with each other now that Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) is retiring. Miller will run in Lewis’s Democratic-leaning 31st district rather than against Royce.

A Florida state Senate panel passed a congressional redistricting map Thursday that imperils Reps. Tom Rooney (R), Allen West (R), Steve Southerland (R) and David Rivera (R).

The Hotline updates you on fourth-quarter fundraising reports.

Must-reads:

Mitt Romney’s gain in national polls: Why it matters” — Mark Blumenthal, Huffington Post

Will Mitt Romney follow candidates who failed to connect (and failed to win)?” — Michael Leahy, Washington Post

“Guess who’s raising money for Romney: Bigwigs from private equity firms” — Michael Isikoff, NBC News

Ron Paul’s Delegate-Focused Campaign Strategy Came From Obama ‘08” — Sam Stein, Huffington Post

 
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