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« Him With His Foot in His Mouth | Main | Do Mayoral Endorsements Work? »

February 25, 2008

Do Gubernatorial Endorsements Work?

posted by Josh Goodman

Hillary Clinton's fading presidential hopes hinge, to a large extent, on the abilities of two governors. In Ohio, she has the help of Ted Strickland. If she survives Ohio and Texas, the next big test will be Pennsylvania, where Ed Rendell is backing her.

But do gubernatorial endorsements actually help presidential candidates? This year's primaries and caucuses suggest the answer is no -- or at least not usually.

So far, thirty governors have endorsed prior to their party's vote. In ten of those cases, the state hasn't vote yet. Out of the other twenty, twelve times the governor backed the candidate that ended up winning. You can see the full list below (endorsements that occurred after the primary or caucus aren't included).

Sixty percent might sound likely a pretty good record. Both parties had competitive multi-candidate fields for quite a while, so even 50% success wouldn't be horrible. On closer inspection, however, the results are less impressive.

In Michigan, for example, the absence of either Barack Obama or John Edwards from the ballot had more to do with Clinton's victory than the backing of Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Three other wins came in states where the endorsed candidate had a home-state advantage (Obama in Illinois and Clinton in Arkansas and New York).

Those victories suggest a larger problem in determining whether endorsements matter. Endorsers always like to pick winners. Governors enjoy political benefits from choosing the victorious candidate, from good press to future campaign help to presidential appointments.

So, endorsements often reflect who is going to win a state, more so than they influence the outcome. When Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire endorsed Obama a day before her state's caucuses, for example, that struck me as a confirmation, rather than a cause, of Obama's victory.

Gubernatorial endorsements may be swaying voters at the margins, but other factors are clearly more important. Obama does best in caucus states, states with large numbers of black voters and states with lots of wealthy, well-educated voters.

He won Maryland easily because of the demographics, in spite of Gov. Martin O'Malley's endorsement of Clinton. Obama lost Arizona because Democratic voters there weren't as good of a fit for him, even though Gov. Janet Napolitano supported him.

If you're searching for endorsements that might have made a difference, there are a couple of prominent ones on the Republican side. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist threw his support behind McCain at the least moment, helping McCain secure a narrow win. Ditto for Schwarzenegger and McCain in California.

But there also have been prominent flops on the Republican side. Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt endorsed Romney, who finished third in the Show-Me State. The least effective endorsement to date? Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. backed McCain, only to see the Arizona senator lose to Romney 90%-5% in his home state.

Huntsman's loyalty could still be rewarded with a spot on the ticket with McCain. If that happens, we'll know of one endorsement that worked beyond any doubt.

State Governor Endorsed Success
Alabama Bob Riley None NA
Alaska Sarah Palin None NA
Arizona Janet Napolitano Obama No
Arkansas Mike Beebe Clinton Yes
California Arnold Schwarzenegger McCain Yes
Colorado Bill Ritter None NA
Connecticut Jodi Rell McCain Yes
Delaware Ruth Ann Minner Clinton No
Florida Charlie Crist McCain Yes
Georgia Sonny Perdue None NA
Hawaii Linda Lingle None yet NA
Idaho Butch Otter None yet NA
Illinois Rod Blagojevich Obama Yes
Indiana Mitch Daniels McCain TBD
Iowa Chet Culver None NA
Kansas Kathleen Sebelius Obama Yes
Kentucky Steve Beshear None yet NA
Louisiana Bobby Jindal None NA
Maine John Baldacci Clinton No
Maryland Martin O'Malley Clinton No
Massachusetts Deval Patrick Obama No
Michigan Jennifer Granholm Clinton Yes
Minnesota Tim Pawlenty McCain No
Mississippi Haley Barbour None yet NA
Missouri Matt Blunt Romney No
Montana Brian Schweitzer None yet NA
Nebraska Dave Heineman Romney TBD
Nevada Jim Gibbons None NA
New Hampshire John Lynch None NA
New Jersey Jon Corzine Clinton Yes
New Mexico Bill Richardson None NA
New York Eliot Spitzer Clinton Yes
North Carolina Mike Easley Edwards TBD
North Dakota John Hoeven None NA
Ohio Ted Strickland Clinton TBD
Oklahoma Brad Henry None NA
Oregon Ted Kulongoski Clinton TBD
Pennsylvania Ed Rendell Clinton TBD
Rhode Island Don Carcieri Romney, then McCain TBD
South Carolina Mark Sanford None NA
South Dakota Mike Rounds Huckabee TBD
Tennessee Phil Bredesen None NA
Texas Rick Perry Giuliani, then McCain TBD
Utah Jon Huntsman McCain No
Vermont Jim Douglas McCain TBD
Virginia Tim Kaine Obama Yes
Washington Christine Gregoire Obama Yes
West Virginia Joe Manchin None yet NA
Wisconsin Jim Doyle Obama Yes
Wyoming Dave Freudenthal None yet NA


cardiology emr

Well, endorsements often reflect who is going to win a state, more so than they influence the outcome.


Medical software review

think one of the greatest hurdles is overcoming misconceptions in the minds of regulators, doctors and patients alike. I just returned from a trip to Germany and colleagues there are amused about America's 3rd World-like medical records situation.

Doctors online

I think this can go a head.

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