Sarah Palin vs. Bill Clinton: Whose endorsement means more?
Sarah Palin-endorsed candidates went three-for-four Tuesday night. But Bill Clinton helped Sen. Blanche Lincoln pull off a stunner. Just how much of an impact do their endorsements have?
Sarah Palin had a good night Tuesday, with three of the four candidates she had endorsed – including California’s Carly Fiorina and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley – either winning their primaries or making a runoff.Skip to next paragraph
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But the effectiveness of such endorsements is up for debate.
The endorsement game is in full swing, and politicians are happy to receive credit when someone they publicly back goes on to win – especially if that person can be useful, say, in a future presidential campaign. Former Alaska Governor Palin’s late endorsement of Terry Branstad for governor of Iowa puts her in his good graces in a key nominating state in the 2012 presidential race, should she decide to run. Of course, Mr. Branstad was going to win his GOP primary anyway, and no one’s saying that Palin’s endorsement was all that instrumental. But her bases are covered.
But there are exceptions. There is no hard evidence that Palin’s endorsement of Ms. Haley, the conservative Indian-American state legislator running for governor of South Carolina, helped her win 49 percent of the vote in a four-person field. But it appears to have, political analysts say. Haley’s poll numbers took off after Palin came out for her, as did fund-raising and media attention. The endorsement of Jenny Sanford, ex-wife of Gov. Mark Sanford, also likely helped. But political observers doubt that Palin was all that instrumental in Fiorina’s California Senate primary victory.
“California and South Carolina are different states,” says Mr. Guth. “In South Carolina, Sarah Palin is still seen as a Republican leader of the future.”
Another way to examine the "Palin effect" is through polling that looks at her as a potential 2012 presidential candidate. In polling of South Carolina, the firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that among Haley supporters, 27 percent wanted Palin to be the GOP nominee for president in 2012, with 25 percent favoring Newt Gingrich and 21 percent for Mitt Romney.