This is the time when organizations and individuals start endorsing candidates for the presidency. It is not clear that endorsements matter these days as much as they were reputed to do in the past. Nowadays people have greater access to information and are less likely to vote the way that some organization tells them to, even if they belong to that organization. What endorsements do is indicate a vague general alignment of views between the candidate and the endorser.
On the Republican side, the people with the most endorsements among members of congress and governors is Jeb Bush, followed by Marco Rubio, and they are both nowhere close to being front runners while Donald Trump has zero such endorsements and is trouncing them. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has got almost all of the endorsements but is facing a stiff challenge from Bernie Sanders.
When it comes to other kinds of endorsers, the conservative magazine National Review has today published an entire issue that consists of an anti-Trump endorsement. Let’s see if that has any effect.
Zaid Jilani has looked at the endorsements on the Democratic side and sees an interesting pattern.
Every major union or progressive organization that let its members have a vote endorsed Bernie Sanders.
Meanwhile, all of Hillary Clinton’s major group endorsements come from organizations where the leaders decide. And several of those endorsements were accompanied by criticisms from members about the lack of a democratic process.
It’s perhaps the clearest example yet of Clinton’s powerful appeal to the Democratic Party’s elite, even as support for Sanders explodes among the rank and file.
While all four major organizations that held membership votes endorsed Sanders, two that did not hold open membership votes also endorsed him: the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and National Nurses United.
Sanders was endorsed by MoveOn with 78 percent of voters choosing him; in the Democracy for America vote, he won nearly 88 percent; and 87 percent of Working Families Party voters chose Sanders.
Many of the groups that did not hold an outright membership vote were not entirely transparent in disclosing how they endorsed candidates. Several cited membership surveys and focus groups but did not disclose how these other processes were weighted against the decisions of executive boards.
What endorsements do is give the candidates a momentary shot of positive publicity. The organizations can also help by providing funds. But when it comes to getting people out to organize and vote, I doubt that they help that much.