Everywhere you look during campaigns you’ll see endorsements. Candidates will be endorsing candidates at the same time organizations are being wooed by campaigns. It is enough to make an observer believe that endorsements carry significant weight in the process, but it just doesn’t seem to be true.
Today Tom Vilsack officially endorsed Hilary Clinton for President. Vilsack is the former Governor of Iowa and is a widely known name in the Democratic Party. It would seem that this endorsement would carry considerable weight. Iowa plays an enormous role in the selection of our Presidental nominees. A strong showing in Iowa can catapult a candidate to the nomination, and a disappointing showing has destroyed many a campaign. Being a former Governor of Iowa, and still a highly respected figure in the state, it would seem that his endorsement is a huge plus for Hilary. If you look here, here, and here it appears that this is a significant event.
Our voting pamphlets compound the idea that endorsements are significant events. They come with lists of “major” endorsements . These lists are trumpeted as if voters tally the organizations and vote for the candidate with the highest total.
Yet something doesn’t add up. Four years ago Howard Dean got the endorsement of Iowa’s Democratic Senator, as well as some influential state organizations. Dean finished a disappointing third.
Endorsements such as Vilsack’s do have important value. Within Iowa, Vilsack’s infrastructure could provide Clinton’s campaign with valuable resources. What it doesn’t do is significantly change the outlook in Iowa. Vilsack, while polling well in his home state, cannot expect his supports to flood Clinton’s campaign. Vilsack’s endorsement can only be a plus for Hilary in Iowa, but don’t expect it to change the face of the race there.