Do endorsements matter?

Nonpartisan political analyst Larry Rothenberg posted an interesting article based on his premise that endorsements almost never matter. Click here to read it.

Rothenberg is referring to endorsements for the presidential candidates, of which we have reported on several from prominent Californians in recent days. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, have both endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

“The reason that endorsements don’t matter much is that presidential contests are such high-profile, visible fights that voters can draw their own opinions of the candidates,” Rothenberg wrote. “You either like Clinton or you don’t. You can make your own mind up about it. You don’t need some celebrity or politician telling you what to do.”

Does Rothenberg’s premise apply to local races? Probably not to the same extent, chiefly because local candidates typically don’t attract the same level of attention.

But endorsements have another purpose, which could apply to local candidates: Big name endorsements create a sense of momentum, which in turn attracts contributors’ money and attention.

“The endorsements are intended, of course, to create an impression of support, either among key subgroups of the electorate — blacks, evangelicals, Hispanics, party insiders, home-schoolers, environmentalists, conservatives, labor unions, etc. — or in the electorate at large,” Rothenberg wrote. “It’s the classic effort to create a bandwagon, to establish the inevitability of your victory.”

Lisa Vorderbrueggen