Anyone who follows politics will tell you, securing the most endorsements doesn't guarantee you're going to get the most votes. But they can help legitimize, energize, and monetize campaigns from time to time.
In the GOP presidential race, Mitt Romney has secured by far the most congressional endorsements for his candidacy, according to a recent tally by Roll Call. The former Massachusetts governor, who also ran for president in 2008, has 42 endorsements. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has 14, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has six, Texas Rep. Ron Paul has three, and businessman Herman Cain has just one, according to Roll Call. Paul's list includes the support of his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
But the most curious number is zero – that's how many of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's colleagues have backed her run for the White House.
"The fact that even her own colleagues aren't endorsing her does speak volumes. It is indicative of the people that serve with her don't prefer her," says Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.
Bachmann probably did not win over a lot of colleagues when she decided to issue her own "Tea Party" response to President Obama's State of the Union speech earlier this year while Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin gave the official GOP response, Kondik says.
"I'm sure that that frosted a lot of Republicans. It was almost like saying that Paul Ryan isn't conservative enough to give the response, which is kind of ridiculous," he says. "She's a renegade and I think she always has been."
Stu Rothenberg, editor of The Rothenberg Political Report which offers nonpartisan political campaign analysis, says most endorsements are meaningless in presidential campaigns because people in the early states tend to make up their own minds. Of Bachmann's goose egg, he says it's all about circumstance.
"I think the fact that she doesn't have any is more a reflection that her star shot up very quickly and just as quickly plummeted. If it looked like she was going to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, I'm sure she'd get endorsements," he says.
As for the significance of endorsements made in the race so far, Kondik says Romney's gradually growing support among members of Congress shows the "elite" political class is coalescing around his candidacy.
"That doesn't necessarily mean that average voters actually care about the endorsement, but it's sort of a signal to people like us that the party is getting more comfortable with the idea of him as the nominee," he says.