Political Candidate Endorsements: Do They Help Campaigns?

Many new candidates in local political races scramble to get as many endorsements as they can from well-known public figures, current officeholders and community organizations. They think–mistakenly–that the right endorsement can make them a shoo-in for winning the election if only they can let the voters know who is supporting them.

political endorsementsDon’t get me wrong: endorsements rarely hurt a candidate, and you shouldn’t turn them down if they’re from a credible individual or organization. And there’s nothing wrong with requesting endorsements, either, as long as it’s not the only campaign strategy you have.

To me, though, political campaign endorsements are like getting balloons at the carnival: they make you feel good and get other people to take a second look at you, but they really don’t take you anywhere.

I’ve seen plenty of candidate literature that consists almost exclusively of a laundry list of endorsement from local politicians, service organizations, unions and newspapers. In most cases, it’s little more than a waste of space.

One problem with endorsements is that they fool candidates into thinking that they’re one of the reasons they win elections. The truth is often that the candidate would have won the election without hammering the laundry list of endorsements, anyway.

Admittedly, there do exist many examples of local, state and federal races where a well-timed endorsement helped shore up support for a candidate with certain demographics. Even in these cases, however, there was usually a whole litany of other factors that were already moving in the winning candidate’s favor.

Rather than relying solely on endorsements to power your campaign, make hard work your number one tactic . . . and seek out endorsements only to give you some additional momentum.