Do Political Endorsements Still Matter?

In this day and age, do political endorsements still matter?  Politicians clamor to get the coveted endorsement of political pundits, authors, and current and former politicians.  Many of them list such endorsements on their web sites.  And even when such people do not actually endorse a particular candidate (but simply hint at it), candidates and their supporters will still claim it is an outright endorsement in many cases.

Recently conservative political pundit and columnist George Will all but said “I officially endorse Libertarian Candidate Robert Sarvis for Governor of Virginia,” in his column written for the Washington Post.  Many of Sarvis’ supporters took this as an outright endorsement and tweeted the article or posted it to Facebook, claiming that Will had officially endorsed their candidate of choice.  The column he wrote for the Post was a glowing piece about Sarvis and probably made many a Virginia voter think long and hard about voting for him.  But it was not an outright endorsement.

Ron Paul Endorses Cuccinelli.On another note, former Congressman Ron Paul (God bless his confused little heart) did officially endorse Virginia Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.  A lot of speculation went into why he did this.  A lot of Paul supporters abandoned ship.  Some voted for Sarvis, while others simply stayed home on election day.  Yes, some Paul supporters did vote for Cuccinelli, but most of them would have voted for the Republican even without a Paul endorsement, because they themselves are Republican (they would have most likely never supported Paul had he run under any other party affiliation either).

Richard Conrow, a Winchester, Virginia resident and Ron Paul supporter during the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Elections, suggests that Paul was “talked into supporting Cuccinelli” without really knowing all the facts.  To The Paul Clan...As I suggested in an earlier piece I wrote here at this blog, I believe it was simply a case of two Republicans sticking together.  Conrow, who worked with the Virginia Campaign For Liberty (a group dedicated to promoting Ron Paul in Virginia and getting him elected President), was not impressed with Paul’s endorsement of Cuccinelli and his truck was used in a video titled “When Ron Paul Supporters Think For Themselves.”  Conrow is no longer affiliated with Virginia Campaign For Liberty. The video of his truck was created by Bruce Majors, a Sarvis supporter from the Washington, D.C. area.

Cathy Shallow, a Liberty-minded voter in Washington state also does her own research before settling on a particular candidate. “For me, Liberty and the Constitution are the most important issues.  An endorsement by Ron Paul or anyone would never stop me from doing my own research.   I know all too well about political gamesmanship,” Shallow notes.  She ended up writing in Ron Paul’s name on her ballot when she voted for President in 2012.  It was one of the most principled votes I’ve ever heard of.

Sometimes political endorsements can hurt candidates.  In 2012, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was endorsed by Donald Trump.  Romney stood by as Trump explained why the Massachusetts liberal was the right man for the job.  I have never been a Trump fan myself, and I remember countless others laughing as Romney soaked in the Trump endorsement as something grand.  I guess you have to take endorsements when and where you can get them in Romney’s case.  It may have hurt him in the long run.  You either really like Trump or you really despise him.  There aren’t too many people in the middle.

Trump attacked President Obama for many months over the fact that the President would not release his “long form” birth certificate (President Obama finally addressed the issue on National TV).  I won’t go into whether or not President Obama was born in the United States (because at this point, I really don’t care).  If he wasn’t, it would be too late to do anything about it now.  He’s nearly done with the first year of his second term.  And it doesn’t look like ANYONE on either the Republican or Democratic side of the aisle is taking up the issue in Washington, D.C.  So let it go people.  But my point is that Trump chose to make this the centerpiece of his beef with the President (there were so many important issues he could have taken up pertaining to the economy and healthcare, but instead he chose this).  And he certainly did look foolish in doing so.  It got him nowhere.  And to top off his wacky shenanigans, he endorsed Romney.  You have a problem with one liberal, so you endorse another.  Smart move.

2012 Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson endorsed Robert Sarvis in the Virginia governors race back in August.  This meant something to me personally.  While I would have supported Sarvis even without an endorsement from Johnson, this was a reassurance that everything was as it should be.  I had already done my homework on Sarvis and was satisfied that he was the real Libertarian in the race.  I was glad to see that Gary Johnson had come to the same conclusion.

The Johnson endorsement however, did not stop Republicans masquerading as Libertarians from bashing Sarvis and claiming he was not a real Libertarian.  Sarvis answered some of the smears in a radio interview on the Joe Thomas Show over WCHV in Charlottesville, Virginia.

So, all of this to say what?  It doesn’t seem to matter sometimes who endorses who.  Gary Johnson, one of the best Libertarian examples in this day and age, endorsed Robert Sarvis and Republicans didn’t seem to care (maybe that’s because REPUBLICANS wouldn’t know what a Libertarian was if one came along and slapped them in the face – which wouldn’t be such a bad idea).

And as we saw, Donald Trump’s endorsement didn’t seem to help Mitt Romney either.  But when Romney couldn’t even help himself, how do you expect a nut-job like Trump to do any better?

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