When you have 17 people running for the nomination, at some point 16 of them will drop out. Or, anyway, at least 14 will; your Jim Gilmores and your John Kasichs seem to like to hang around for no apparent reason. All those people dropping out means that there are lots of endorsements for the survivors to pick up.

On Thursday night, George Pataki endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a bit of news that was overshadowed by the Democratic debate and the high-profile Republican dinner in Midtown Manhattan and the Cubs' big win over the Reds and the renaming of the Apple operating system and the continued existence of clouds. It was Pataki's second endorsement of another candidate this election cycle, excluding Pataki's tacit endorsement of himself -- meaning that so far Pataki has supported more people on the Republican side than were ever real candidates on the Democratic side.

The web of endorsements is complex enough by now that we figured a diagram was in order. And so:


Click on that to view a bigger version. Like a spider web, getting up close makes it easier to see.

So Rick Perry endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), after dropping out so early that we never even got around to making a little drawing of him. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (same deal with the drawing) also endorsed Cruz. Bobby Jindal endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), which sort of means he endorsed Cruz, too, since Rubio endorsed Cruz (sort of) earlier this week. Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) is in the same boat, first because he endorsed Jeb Bush, who then endorsed Cruz, but also because he, like Pataki, changed his endorsement after his second guy dropped out. So Graham endorsed Cruz directly.

Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Jim Gilmore have each declined to endorse anyone else, despite how much people have no doubt cajoled Gilmore. Rick Santorum endorsed Rubio, meaning he sort of endorsed Cruz. Carly Fiorina endorsed Cruz directly, while N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and Ben Carson each endorsed Donald Trump.

So, for those keeping score:

  • Ted Cruz: Eight endorsements, six direct and two indirect. (If you count Rubio's comments as an endorsement, which, let's just do so, eh?)
  • Donald Trump: Two endorsements.
  • John Kasich: One leftover endorsement.

Plus three who never endorsed anyone. Seventeen in total, all accounted for.

Anyway, Trump is winning despite this, just as he was winning despite Bush and Rubio collecting scores of endorsements before each dropped out. It's almost like it doesn't matter at all, until Jim Gilmore weighs in.