Some Sarah Palin Endorsements Matter More Than Others

In all but the rarest cases, endorsements don't swing elections. Their importance lies in what they tell us about the endorser, not about the endorsee.

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Do endorsements matter? And specifically, do Sarah Palin's endorsements matter? Some more than others.

To wit, Politics Daily's Sandra Fish has an article today looking at the former half-term governor's track record endorsing candidates this cycle. It's a mixed bag, Fish concludes with Palin going 2-0 in gubernatorial endorsements thus far, but only 3-3 in congressional races. Of course such record keeping is rather beside the point. Palin's nod may have highlighted Rand Paul's Tea Party cred, for example, but she didn't create it. And by the same token, her endorsement of national Republican favorite Vaughn Ward in Idaho (in the race to face Rep. Walt Minnick) didn't lead to his defeat--rather it was his plagiarizing from Barack Obama and unrepentant ignorance of Puerto Rico's not being a foreign country.

Let's face it: In all but the rarest cases, endorsements don't swing elections. Their importance lies in what they tell us about the endorser, not about the endorsee. Which brings us to Palin's latest endorsement: Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who is hoping to reclaim his old job.

[See political cartoons about Sarah Palin.]

Iowa, you will recall is the home of a certain key early presidential contest, prompting Andrew Sullivan, for one, to declare, "She's running." Or as his colleague Marc Ambinder puts it: Branstad's going to win, and he'll have a field operation every GOP presidential candidate would kill for. "If you're thinking about running for president, and I think Palin really is thinking about running for president, you don't get on the wrong side of the guy who will probably be governor during the caucuses by endorsing his opponent, no matter how conservative and Tea Partyish [Branstad opponent] Bob Vander Plaats seems to be," he writes.

So it's not so much that she's running, but that she's doing what she must to keep the door open.

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