Monday, May 24, 2010

Caveat Lectores on Political Endorsements

"In general, endorsements are worthless and don't often lead to victories for most candidates, even when the individuals giving the endorsements are extremely popular. …There always will be some voters who don't like the individual making the endorsement, and those voters will be more likely to vote against the endorsement rather than for it. And newspaper endorsements often hurt candidates, costing them as much as 3 percent in the polls."

The Lector found this quote in a news article recently from Larry Powell, co-author of the book Political Campaign Communication: Inside and Out.

This feeling has been my uneducated opinion for many years. Insecure candidates like endorsements because of the touchy feely nature of having a group of people say good things about the candidate. Endorsers, particularly unions, want to feel important and show their members they have clout.

What “works” in an election is never a known quantity; therefore, candidates will try anything that might help them win. An endorsement from a “powerful” group may not hurt but it does not win elections.

More and more unions, both local and national, are feeling the pressure to endorse and send a check. Money is the favored mode of endorsement, but in local elections money alone is not what is the most helpful to a candidate.

“Sweat equity” derived from many campaign workers doing the “grunt work” is what is the most helpful and in the end appreciated. Some union locals have abandoned real campaign work in favor of sending a check to emulate the big spenders. This is foolishness at its worst.

Yes, political campaigns are fueled and sustained by money. About that fact there can be no doubt. However, a local union will not have enough money to compete with the big spenders for the attention of a winning candidate. Spend you must but contribute time as well as money.

A 100 member local that contributes $500.00 has invested only $5.00 per member. That is not spending largesse. The candidates will take your money and smile but little else.

A local campaign needs bodies to do all the things that can only be done by people. Union members are the people who can do the work and get the glory. Winning and losing candidates remember the faces they saw helping them when they walked neighborhoods knocking on doors, polled precincts, stood on street corners on election day and were at the polls to vote.

A local union has the organization in place to help the right candidates win elections. That is the kind of endorsement a candidate really needs.

Choose your candidates well and help them win elections.

And oh yes, have a Nice Day.

Caveat Lectores by Jeff Carnes
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