September 8, 2012

Campaign Endorsements Are Stupid

Patrick Laverty

This is the crazy time of the year again when the politicians come to your door with their smiles and palm cards and ask for your vote. You see their ads in the paper and their yard signs scattered around town.

Another thing you see is endorsements for every race from President all the way to Town Council and School Committee. "The North Rumsticktonville Democrats endorse Bill Smith for Town Council!" Oh really? I never would have guessed that the town Democratic party would endorse the Democrat. And yes, I'm fully aware that the Republican parties do the exact same thing and that is equally silly. Just as when we see candidates touting that they are the "endorsed candidate" in the race when they have a primary. How'd that whole endorsement thing work out for Jim Bennett about ten years ago when he was running for Governor and had a primary against a little-known businessman named Carcieri? We've seen similar things happen in other races since then. The endorsement sometimes means very little to the voters.

I think it's great that the voters often reject these endorsements. It shows that they can think for themselves, which really leads me to wonder, does anyone care about endorsements when they're in the voting booth? I mean, how do I choose between the candidate that Willie Mays and Kim Kardashian want me to vote for or who Vince McMahon and Pat Sajak prefer? Do these sorts of endorsements actually work on anyone? If not, then what's the point?

I can understand it when an advocacy group like Fight Back RI or RIILE lists their endorsements. That sort of information can be helpful to a single-issue voter. But with the rest of these endorsements, who cares? If someone is going to vote for Candidate X simply because Mayor Y supports the candidate, I'm not so sure that person should really even be voting.

Before you head to the polls on Tuesday, please do your own research, find out about each of the candidates on the ballot. Use a sample ballot for your district and learn about each of the candidates. If you're going to take the time to vote, please also take the time to know who you're voting for and voting against, and at least have a good reason to vote for them. Do it for Kim Kardashian.

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The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance publishes a weekly report of recommendations on all pending bills and hands it out to legislators at the state house. They also publish an annual ranking/report card of all legislators in the state based on their votes over the previous year. I've heard from a few sources that it's had a positive impact. Whatever the political views of the legislator, they don't want a published report listing them with an "F" in individual liberty.

This should be the model. I wonder if the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity could publish something with a few extra hands.

Posted by: Dan at September 9, 2012 8:41 AM

Cross party endorsements like those of Ray Flynn for Doherty and Scott Brown are more significant-they indicate a broader appeal on the candidates' part.

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 9, 2012 6:18 PM

Joe, it might indicate some of that or it could mean that the other candidate is just bat-crap crazy. There are always crossovers.

However my main point is should we listen to and follow endorsements? My opinion is no. Every voter should do their own research on all candidates and make their own decisions. Maybe an endorsement like the type you indicate or the special types that I mentioned can be a part of that research, but really those should be irrelevant to any voter doing a fair amount of their own research on the candidates. If someone cares about the ability to work across the aisle and they check the candidate's voting history, they'll see that themselves, they don't need Ray Flynn saying "I support this guy."

Posted by: Patrick at September 9, 2012 6:34 PM

Hello. And Bye.

Posted by: XRumerTest at October 27, 2012 4:10 PM
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