COMMENTARY | Debates have recently been spurred over whether or not Donald Trump’s endorsement of Mitt Romney will have an impact on the election for the next GOP presidential nominee.
According to a Pew Research Poll released on Jan. 13, “Few GOP voters would be swayed by endorsements.” However, how telling are the results of this poll?
Respondents to this particular poll comprised of 1,000 adults. Results indicated Trump’s endorsement of a candidate would make no difference to 64 percent of republican and republican-leaning voters. When asked if the endorsements of other prominent GOP figures would sway their votes, the response was similar with 59 percent -79 percent saying that it would make no difference. One must keep in mind that of the 1,000 people polled, only 328 were included in the subgroup labeled “Republican and Republican-leaning voters.”
In 2007, when news headlines reported that Oprah Winfrey announced her endorsement of Barack Obama, I looked at my husband and said, “That’s that. Obama is going to win the nomination.” He emphatically disagreed with my opinion for a number of reasons. I carried on by reminding him of the slew of other celebrities who were publicly supporting Obama. His stance would not be swayed; voters do not place votes based on endorsements, period.
A past Pew Research Poll on the effects of political endorsements was conducted and released on September 20, 2007. Similar to the more recent Pew poll, it revealed that 69 percent of respondents denied that Oprah’s endorsement of Obama would have any impact on their decision. Obama did end up winning the nomination, though, as well as the presidency. So, again, how enlightening was this poll?
Of course, one must consider the fact that endorsements alone are not the only thing that high profile supporters bring to the table. They also often bring in campaign funds. In 2007, as part of her endorsement of Obama, Oprah hosted a fundraiser at her personal residence in California. Each guest paid $2300 to attend the event, and the gala was said to have raised $3 million for Obama’s campaign.
According to The Forbes 400: The Richest People In America, Oprah Winfrey ranks in with a net worth of $2.7 billion, and Donald Trump tops her at $2.9 billion. This makes me wonder what kind of fundraiser Trump may be for the Romney campaign. Fan bases and likeability aside, money talks.
The effect that political endorsements will have for a candidate one way or another may be futile if judged based on polling or opinion alone. But, if the endorsement puts a candidate in the spotlight or adds significant revenue to a campaign, the effects could become more discernable.