Romney 1, Gingrich: Most politicos would agree an endorsement doesn’t necessarily equal votes. But since the politicos and, probably more importantly, the media, fixate on endorsements, they do bring a lot of free air time/print space. So, you could make the argument, endorsements do ultimately lead to some votes, at least increased visibility for a candidate (something candidates like Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann would love to have right now). Either way, Newt Gingrich won over the endorsement of the Manchester Union-Leader. What does that matter? The New York Times‘ Nate Silver lays out a pretty thoughtful statistical analysis showing that while the paper’s endorsement doesn’t mean automatic victory, it does seem to correlate with double-digit improvement from the candidate’s poll standing at the time of the endorsement to the final vote on primary night.
Sunday, Mitt Romney also received an endorsement. Former Iowa Speaker of the House Chris Rants wrote an op-ed in the Sioux City Journal endorsing Romney. Rants supported Romney last cycle. But he had held out on his endorsement this time until now (he did briefly head Thad McCotter’s presidential efforts in Iowa).
Whose endorsement matters most? I’m not sure this is an apples to apples comparison. No doubt Gingrich gets FAR more national press out of his endorsement. Using Google News, I found 904 articles mentioning the endorsement. I found just one mentioning the Rants endorsement (not counting the Sioux City Journal, of course).
The Rants’ choice was a bit of a surprise to me. I figured if he hadn’t already picked Romney publicly by now, he would back someone else (I mean, besides McCotter). In 2010, Rants ran his short-lived run for governor as the “ideas guy”. He had all kinds of ideas for all kinds of problems in the state. That didn’t translate into poll popularity or cash either. So Rants dropped out. Gingrich seems to be the “ideas guy” in the race for president. I thought there might be a natural fit between these two ideas guy. Rants said in the op-ed piece, he did narrow his choice down to Romney and Gingrich. And he feels Romney can actually win, not just the nomination, but the White House. He didn’t think Gingrich could do that. We’ll see what affect Rants’ words have on other Iowans who haven’t yet made up their minds in this race, even if Google News doesn’t pick up on it.