Ask Donald Trump, and he’ll gleefully tell you how important his endorsement is. “Everybody wants it,” he tells the Washington Post. “I have millions of people waiting for me to do it.” But the Post isn’t convinced; research reveals that the power of endorsements has declined to virtually nothing, it reports. “The vast majority of individual endorsements are worth the vote of the endorser and, about half the time, the endorser’s spouse,” quips one political science professor.
In general, 61% of Americans say endorsements don’t matter to them, to 37% who said they are important. Some strategists argue that they are useful at least in generating positive news coverage, and sometimes in signaling a candidate’s ideology in primaries. “Every time you put points on the board it’s important, so endorsements add up,” says one Democratic pollster. But Trump’s certainly wouldn’t. In one Fox News poll, 71% said his endorsement wouldn’t matter to them, and another 18% said it would be a negative.