The value of Trump's endorsements (in GOP primaries)

This has been vastly overstated. To the greatest extent, by Trump himself, in keeping with his general worldview about anything relating to himself, but also by the media.

In particular, this takes the form of looking at the percentage of Trump-endorsed candidates who won versus lost their races. The problem with this is that the vast majority of the people Trump endorsed were overwhelming favorites even absent Trump’s endorsement. In most cases they were the incumbents, and in most others they were clear front-runners before Trup endorsed them. This is not a coincidence, because Trump, eager to keep his W-L record up, is very careful to assess the candidates’ prospects before making his endorsement. To the extent that in one case, his guy (Mo Brooks) fell behind in the polls and Trump withdrew his endorsement.

If you look only at guys who were in competitive races (or were behind) before Trump endorsed them, he has a very mixed record.

All in all, a Republican getting Trump’s endorsement is a definite plus for them in a primary, and probably more so on a nationwide scale than any other politician in recent memory at least (though Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden in SC may be the single most influential endorsement in US history). But it’s not a huge deal either, to an extent remotely close to what his record would suggest, and it’s very misleading to focus on that record as the measure of it.

FiveThirtyEight had some trackers up but, for the reasons you give, it didn’t give a particularly good sense of how much the endorsement truly mattered.

Hopefully, they’ll throw together a better analysis.

That said, I think the big question will be how they all do in the general election.

I think there are two aspects to that.

One is whether in situations where Trump’s primary endorsement had an impact, this resulted in a more electable versus less electable candidate for the general election. In general, this will tend to be a less electable candidate, in some cases by a significant margin. To a large extent this is because one of Trump’s chief criteria in making endorsements is how enthusiastic the candidate is in proclaiming that the 2020 election was fraudulent, which is not a winner with the electorate at large.

The other aspect is whether Trump’s general election endorsement will have a positive or negative impact on those candidates. I would imagine this will be a wash. Probably energize his supporters a bit but also energize his opponents as well.

Besides the overall discussion prompted by the OP, can we also use this thread to post a running scoreboard of Trump-endorsees’ wins and losses?

So far, we have:

  • Wins:
    Doug Mastriano for PA gov.; Republicans fear he will lose in the general.

  • Losses:
    – Mad Cawthorn
    – Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, running for ID Gov (no longer).
    – Also Trump’s candidate for ID Lt. Gov. (sorry, can’t find that cite again just now).
    – Nebraska Gov. candidate Charles Herbster

At the time Trump originally endorsed him, Brooks was leading in the polls. With the benefit of Trump’s endorsement, Brooks fell way behind and Trump pulled his endorsement. Now, with Trump no longer on his side, Brooks’ support has increased and he is back in striking distance.

Trump may have to re-endorse him :slight_smile:

After Trump Pulls Endorsement, Support for Mo Brooks Grows: Poll (

I hope your implication that Trump is losing influence is correct, but examples seems a bit cherry-picked. I think the endorsement made JD Vance.

If Trump endorses someone who isn’t easily sold as deep down MAGA (Oz), the endorsement means less.

Well, not deliberately cherry-picked (by me), just the ones I happened to know about. I saw an article earlier today purporting to be a run-down of his winning and losing pick, but I didn’t read it at the time.

Certainly, many news sources are following this, so maybe there’s no point in using this thread to catalog his picks. Googling these words:

  • trump endorsement wins and losses

turns up plenty of hits. Their numbers are all over the place – some sites, with right-wing-ish sounding names, are claiming 80-some wins with just a few losses. Other sites show less than that, but still lots. Google them for yourself and see what you can make of it.

Where I live we have Kevin Kiley running for Congress in a newly delineated district. He was one of the leaders of the wasteful and failed attempt to recall Gavin Newsom, so he has strong cred among the “Murca! F!ck yeah!” crowd. That said, he probably had a decent amount of support from run-of-the-mill conservatives around here and perhaps some independents. The newly-shaped district is going to lean R anyway, so he probably was going to win no matter what. However, he recently received an endorsement from Trump, so it will be interesting to see if the race gets more competitive now.

And Ted Budd in North Carolina. He was relatively little known in a 14-person field that included former Republican Governor McCrory. Trump’s endorsement was critical to him separating himself from the pack.

Looks like Trump went 1 for 4 in Georgia. Only win was the Senate (Hershel Walker).

Everyone was paying attention to the Governor’s race, but the SoS position was the most important. CNN projects Raffensperger will get over 50%, so he won’t have to face a runoff. That’s good, because we know he has the integrity to run an honest election. Trump’s pick (Hice) was promising to give the 2024 election to Trump no matter what the vote totals actually were. I personally expect the Dems to sweep the Georgia statewide races in November, but it’s going to be close. So it’s good that even if the Rs win, the elections will be run honestly.

The fourth race was for AG, where incumbent Chris Carr easily beat Trumpist John Gordon.

ETA: Those are all state-wide positions. MTG won her primary, so I guess that’s another win for TFG.

Some interesting notes from Republican voters in Georgia - I hope they are returning to standard Conservative fare from the fringe right…

Robert Duffy said he voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, but would not vote for him if the former president ran a third time. Sipping a margarita on the quaint town square in suburban Alpharetta, Ga., Duffy said he is ready to move on from Trump and other Republicans’ insistence that the 2020 election was rigged.

“It’s a bit of a turn off at this point,” Duffy said. "Why are we looking back at this point? I think it’s deterring our efforts in the Republican Party to move forward."

Duncan, on the other hand, went right after Trump, creating a Republican advocacy group called GOP 2.0. It even ran ads during this campaign season.

“Inflation at a 40-year high,” Duncan says in an ad. “Open borders. National security threats. But some politicians would rather talk about conspiracy theories and past losses. Letting liberal extremists take us in the wrong direction — a mistake our country simply can’t afford. We must focus on the future and rebuild our party. But I am not alone in believing there is a better way forward.”


CNN’s Harry Enten found that Trump’s “very favorable” rating, in an average of surveys, has declined nearly 20 points since the eve of the 2020 presidential election.

That’s a significant decline, and shows the further someone gets from power, the potentially less influence they retain.

“[W]e’ve got hundreds of years’ worth of history that shows us the former president loses their influence every day they’re out of office,” Duncan told Axios. “And Donald Trump — although he wishes it wasn’t the case — is no different.”

I think this ties into the point of the OP.

Trump has been running up the score by endorsing people who are going to win anyway. But in the specific case of Georgia, he was obsessed with vengeance against those who he believed had failed to “Stop the Steal” of his rightful victory in that state. So he stuck his neck out with endorsements which were based primarily on punishing his “enemies” rather than on likelihood of victory. And it got him nowhere.

We’ll get another test – Trump has waded into the WI gubernatorial primary to endorse the challenger to the Republican establishment candidate. This is a critical race – Wisconsin was one of the closest states in the Presidential election last time and Republicans hold both chambers in the state legislature.

A split verdict on Trump’s endorsements in SC today – Republican Rep. Tom Rice, who voted for his impeachment, lost his primary to a Trump-backed challenger. Meanwhile Republican Rep. Nancy Mace, who drew a Trump-endorsed opponent for refusing to back his election lies, won her primary.

And in other news, Republican flipped a traditionally Democratic South Texas Congressional seat in a special election.

Well, yes, we have some trump backed candidates winning, but how many still would have won without the endorsement?

It does not seem like trump can turn a loser into a winner.

At least in SC-7, Trump’s endorsement undoubtedly helped Russell Fry emerge from the pack and beat the incumbent Congressman by 25 points.

It does seem that where Trump’s endorsement is particularly helpful in a Republican primary is when there are several candidates without a clear frontrunner.


Not unlike the circumstances that led to his winning the 2016 nomination.

What about the Michigan governor’s race where several candidates were disqualified? I’m guessing that one of the disqualified candidates had Trump’s endorsement; how do we count that?

Trump has not yet endorsed in the Michigan governor’s race.